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The commercial crash of recreational drones

These flying cameras have not become mass consumer goods.

After gaming consoles and portable video cameras, it must have been the new darling of high-tech family products. A flying camera, easy to use and a formidable efficiency, promised to settle permanently at the foot of the Christmas tree. These bright prospects that hinted at the uninterrupted growth of sales are being brutally compromised. Highlighted by the very bad pass through Parrot, which is expected to dig 100 million euros of losses this year, the tumble of recreational drones sounds the end of a cycle.

According to the panels formed by Gfk and NPD, the annual decline (third quarter of 2018 compared to the third quarter of 2017) of model sales between 500 and 800 euros, located at the heart of the market, reached 33% in value on all major European countries (France, United Kingdom, Germany). In the United States, it reaches 56%. France is the only country where sales remain well oriented (+ 12%) but until when? Even if these figures do not take into account the sales realized via Internet, they translate what must be called a commercial crash.

The Chinese DJI, world leader in drones (70% of global sales), which does not report on its sales or sales, does not comment on these data. However, we note that his promotions end of the year are particularly aggressive while there is little competition against him. DJI has just launched Osmo Pocket, a stabilized camera that is timely to diversify its business.

An unfinished democratization

For lack of impulse a real democratization of the product – the fashion of the quadricopters with a hundred euros, delicate to drive, badly stabilized and having a camera not performing well, will have been only a flash of straw -, the manufacturers could not install their devices for a very long time in the short list consumers. They did not seduce beyond the circle of product lovers high-tech and have totally failed to address a female audience.

We are witnessing a saturation of the leisure UAV market. The public – generally CSP + – already equipped does not necessarily want to renew every year its purchase “Says Laurent Wilk, head of the Cleantech sector at Invest Securities. “Improving the quality of the photos is not enough; a breakthrough innovation is needed for the market to recover, “ believes there. The hardening of regulations (in France, an individual must now submit to an online test MCQ to fly a drone of more than 800 grams and will soon have to declare his device) and perhaps also security fears more or less fantasized that the drones are born have also not favored their growth.

“The recreational drone is not a mass product “, Says Alexandre Maupas, the boss of Studiosport, specialist distributor of drone and image, based in Rouen. “Our customers are photo and video enthusiasts who come with their backpacks, digital SLRs, poles and GoPro. For them, a drone is a tool among others. “

“The interest of flying a quadricopter, He continues, it's not flying – flying is perfectly assisted by electronics – but capturing images. This is not intended for the general public.

In short, the mirage of the family recreational drone, a natural extension of the portable video camera, was lost in the sands despite the sometimes spectacular improvements of which it was beneficial (video in 4K, obstacle avoidance systems, stability to any event, autonomous return at the point of takeoff …).

Evolve to continue

David Bennaroch, founder and host of DJI Le Forum, does not share this analysis. According to him, “The leisure drone will continue because it will evolve.It will remain just as sophisticated and will miniaturize even more, but it will become a little less powerful, especially in terms of range and load embedded. As a result, it will be less scarecrow figure. The future of the recreational drone also comes down to prices.

While its ability to access the status of consumer goods is debated, no one doubts, however, the future of the drone as a tool for professional use. An area whose turnover is taking off less quickly, but whose durability hardly seems to be in doubt. “Audiovisual remains the most demanding sector, but we are seeing more and more surveyors, security or assistance services, but also building professions”, says Studiosport. In the future, we should see flying more professional UAVs, in conditions of use a priori well framed, as recreational UAVs, the proliferation of which would probably pose more problems.

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