To probably no one’s surprise, the top commercial drone manufacturer of 2020 is DJI, which has an estimated 70-80% market share.
The numbers are based on a report from German analytics firm Drone Industry Insights, which analyzed 430 global companies whose core business is to manufacture drones.
“(DJI) is the undisputed leader of commercial drone manufacturers,” according to a statement from DII.
Here are the top three commercial drone manufacturers of 2020:
DJI, Yuneec and Parrot all make both consumer-focused drones as well as more enterprise-focused drones. And like those three companies, most of the top players focus on building drones in the <$10,000 price range, suggesting that even commercial players aren’t willing to pay more than $10,000 for a high-end rig.
As part of their report, DII broke down the manufacturers by either commercial drone manufacturers, or what it calls dual-use drone manufacturers, to account for drone makers designing drones for both commercial and governmental use.
Here are the top three dual-use drone manufacturers of 2020:
AeroVironment increased revenues by 17% in fiscal year 2020 from 2019, to $367.3 million. The increase in revenues was primarily due to a $44.7 million increase in product sales and a $8.3 million increase in service revenues. Close behind is Insitu, which Boeing acquired in 2008 for an estimated $400 million.
And Israeli-based Aeronautics rounds out No. 3 after defense contractor Rafael Advanced Defense Systems acquired a 50% stake in the company in 2019.
The China factor
Seven of the top 20 companies in DII’s ranking are Chinese.
That said, the dual-use sector (meaning companies who design drones for commercial and governmental) is dominated by US drone manufacturers. That’s not surprising, considering the recent pushback against government agencies using drones.
Anti-Chinese drone sentiment among the U.S. government largely kicked off in 2017, when a memo from the U.S. Army came out that it would prohibit its troops from using DJI drones because of cyber-security concerns. Meanwhile, the Trump administration has also explored an executive order that could ban U.S. federal departments and agencies from buying or using foreign-made drones. That’s opened the door for U.S. drone companies to have a competitive edge.
“With federal governments buying drones made in China, we’re building up China’s military technology, while starving American companies of business,” Spencer Gore, the Founder and CEO of California-based drone maker Impossible Aerospace in an interview earlier this year. “We should stop spending U.S. taxpayer dollars on foreign military technology.”
How can anyone compete with DJI?
DJI is a giant, but that doesn’t mean there’s no room for competition. It’s just competition of a different sort — cornering a niche. The big players that weren’t DJI all had one thing in common: marketing to professional solutions in major drone-using industries like energy and construction, or designing drones for uber-niche applications. And there are still American drone manufacturers on the scene, including California-based Skydio, which this year released its Skydio 2 drone, and Teal, which released its Teal Golden Eagle — a commercial drone platform designed for aerial surveillance — to the public.
And whether it’s DJI or some other company, growth is expected for the future. The global drone market size is set to be worth $42.8 billion by 2025, according to another report from DII called The Drone Market Report 2020-2025, which was released in June 2020. It also suggested that the drone industry is expected grow at a compound annual growth rate of 13.8%, which means it will just about double in value by 2025 to be worth $42.8 billion.