PARROT MAKES LAY-OFFS IN DRONE DIVISIONAfter a disappointing performance over the holidays, French drone manufacturer Parrot have announced that 290 employees will be laid off which equates to roughly a third of their UAV division. The decision was made after they fell short of their final quarter sales projections by around 15%. This follows similar news from both GoPro (whose recalled Karma is slated for re-release in early February) and 3D Robotics at the back end of 2016, with many insiders citing that the majority of companies are struggling to achieve a market share alongside Shenzhen manufacturing giant DJI. Their official reasoning places the blame on the slim margins associated with the consumer drone market which means it’s likely that they will be ditching their plans for further ‘toy’ drones such as the highly gimmicky Mambo and focusing on platforms which straddle the line between hobbyist and commercial users such as the Bebop range and the fixed-wing Disco; the latter of which has found a following within the agricultural sector.
DRONE SALES BOOM OVER XMAS (AS DOES BAD PRESS)Unsurprisingly, the 2016 holiday season saw a massive increase in drone sales with the FAA projecting upwards of one million units finding their way under Christmas trees in the US alone. Increasingly user-friendly offerings from DJI certainly haven’t hurt this upswing with the popularity of the Mavic Pro acting as a strong indicator for market demand. It’s not all good news, though. As we creep further into January, there have been a number of articles from a range of larger media outlets (including the BBC, The Guardian and The New York Times) focusing on the responsible (or not so savvy) usage of drones. One eye-opening study carried out over Christmas week by social media platform Nextdoor collated 8,709 posts relating to drones being lost (or subsequently found). While most of the users heliguy™ interacts with are well aware of regulations and fly responsibly, it’s clear that there is a minority who are souring the public’s perception towards drones. There was inevitably going to be a spike in new and potentially inexperienced users over a Christmas which many tech insiders tipped to be the biggest ever for drones. To avoid this negative publicity from permeating throughout the year, it’s crucial that people educate themselves on the regulations in place to avoid hobbyists' usage of drones becoming vilified.
DJI KICKS OFF THE YEAR WITH ANOTHER ACQUISITIONAs many people will now be aware, DJI has purchased a majority stake in camera manufacturer Hasselblad. This has been met with a mixed response from the tech community, running the gamut from knowing nods to complete bemusement. In our humble opinion, the move makes a lot of sense for DJI as they continue to set their sights on the professional-level camera market (just take a look at the Inspire 2’s X5S) and the prestige of Hasselblad’s brand will almost definitely help bring in a few sceptics. The Swedish camera specialist's heritage of aerial photogrammetry goes back as far WWII and they also had the distinction of capturing events as large as the Moon Landing for NASA in the 1960s which has got to be worth some bragging rights. Having dominated the consumer market and making inroads into commercial with their enterprise projects, it’s a shrewd move on DJI’s part to pursue a brand with a storied legacy to add further credibility to their brand and attract serious professionals under their marquee. This was probably the most left-field news to come from their CES appearance with other reveals such as the OSMO Mobile Silver and Zenmuse M1 gimbal simply rounding out existing ranges. It will be interesting to see where this move takes them and, with DJI’s ruthlessly quick product turnaround, it shouldn’t be too long before we have a glimpse at the next generation of aerial camera.
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