Drone Sales Grow Despite Increased Regulations

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As an avid follower of trends in the drone market, it’s always heartening to see a bit of good news.

Some industry commentators had begun to speculate that increased regulations being placed on unmanned aircraft ownership may have a negative impact on drone sales, however new evidence suggests that this just isn’t the case.

A study by global market research company The NPD Group has found that in the 12 months leading up to April 2016, sales of drones grew 224% YOY to approximately $200m. These results were amalgamated by the NPD’s Retail Tracking Service. In the six months leading up to April alone, growth of drone sales increased to upwards of 4x higher than they were the same time last year.

Drones fitted with 4K cameras made up 1/3 of all sales over the 12-month period of the study, whilst GPS-enabled crafts accounted for 64%. The NPD Group’s Retail Tracking Service also discovered that drones which cost more than $500 snapped up 56% of sales. The average purchase price of a drone in April 2016 was $550, making them one of the highest individual item spends within the technology retail sector.

Their studies also show which companies are leading the pack when it comes to drone sales, below are the top five ranked by their USD market share:

USD-Rankings-NDP-Group

As you’d expect, Chinese drone giant DJI is at the top of the pile. With product lines such as the immensely popular Phantom and Inspire series, and a rapid-fire product release cycle, they haven’t faced much of a challenge to their top spot so far.

However, in recent months we’ve seen contenders emerge in the form of Yuneec (who DJI are currently in legal proceedings with) and even technology company Xiaomi who have just unveiled a drone which seeks to challenge current pricing levels. The Xiaomi ‘Mi’ is slated to cost an affordable $460 for 4K or $380 for 1080p video capture.

Ben Arnold, industry analyst and executive director with the NPD Group had this to say on the rapidly growing drone sales market:

 

“The drone category is continuing to take shape as new products and features such as 4K cameras, Bluetooth and built-in GPS, reveal an expanding range of use cases. The market is maturing in that respect.”“The continued interest around unmanned aerial systems and an expanding retail footprint point to a strong 2016 and 2017 as a result.”

 

Unsurprisingly, drones were an item on many peoples’ Christmas list with 2015’s holiday season brining about a 445% unit sale increase when compared to 2014. With rising consumer demand and increasingly competitive pricing, December’s sales alone were up 273%.

These findings are in line with a recent report from PwC Polska, who valued the emerging commercial drone market at $127bn after studying a range of sectors. The industries most prevalent with the rise of commercial drone usage are listed in the chart below:

Commercial Drone Value


Regulations Not Affecting Drone Sales

The demand for drones in the US appears to be unaffected by the Federal Aviation Authority’s ruling that owners of craft which weigh 0.55lbs – 55lbs must register their drones before conducting any aerial activity outdoors. The announcement of these regulations took place in October 2015 and were implemented in December, but sales have continued to double as the months go on.

Whether these spending trends will prevail in the UK which looks set to have increased regulations announced by its own CAA under a new bill announced during the Queen’s State Opening of Parliament speech, covering technology such as Space Ports and Autonomous Vehicles, only time will tell.

You can read the background notes to the speech which detail the UK government’s research into the value of the drone market as well as their intention to bring in increased regulations below. The relevant section begins on page 17 under the header ‘Modern Transport Bill’, continuing onto page 18:


Our Take

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Heliguy is dedicated to keeping our readers up to date with the latest news on drones whether it has to do with changes to regulations or the release of a new model. Despite noticing that there have been moves towards stricter limits on drone use (both in the UK and abroad), we haven’t encountered any that would go as far as impeding the seemingly unstoppable progress of the market.

We supply a range of unmanned aircraft, have done for years and are lucky enough to have the opportunity to speak with both vocational and professional drone users on a daily basis. There is still a great enthusiasm within this ever-growing community which hasn’t yet been effected by the announcement of legislation. Not even the government’s stance on implementing a drone register similar to that enforced by the USA’s FAA is enough to get UK aviators down.

Here at Heliguy we provide training which ensures that you can remain within the limits of the law when conducting commercial activites with drones. It’s also available to those looking to become a more capable pilot or simply learn moreabout what drones are available and which suits their needs.

As a Civil Aviation Authority approved NQE, we coach you to apply for your Permission for Aerial Work, giving you the freedom to add drone services to your existing business model and benefit from the increasingly lucrative drone market.

Keep checking back to Heliguy Insider for more on the rising value of the drone market and our thoughts on the industry’s progress.

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