GoPro drone effort boosted by data, but leader DJI says it’s tougher than it looks

This excerpt comes from an article originally written by Sally French for MarketWatch.com. Read the full story here.MW-DQ085_gopro__20150714183022_ZH

GoPro Inc. is set to launch a quadcopter drone in the first half of 2016, and FAA data shows the action-camera company could be a behemoth that challenges current drone makers for market dominance.

GoPro’s drone is entering the consumer-level drone market to some competition, primarily from Chinese drone maker Dajiang Innovation Technology along with smaller competitors including 3D Robotics, Inc. and Parrot SA.

Currently, 42.9% of U.S. drones that have been granted a Section 333 Exemption by the Federal Aviation Administration — allowing drone pilots to operate commercially — are manufactured by DJI. AeroVironment comes in second place with a 9.1% share of the total registered drones, trailed by 3D Robotics and PrecisionHawk, according to a Drone Analyst report. Goldman Sachs analysts also say DJI is the leading manufacturer of drones being used for commercial purposes, with an estimated 70% market share in 2014.

In other words, there’s really only one major consumer-based drone company that GoPro needs to compete with in a growing market for unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAVs. Goldman Sachs estimates the drone market is worth $1.4 billion in 2015, but forecasts it to more than triple by 2017, based on the assumption that GoPro may produce wider appeal for consumer drones.

Drone Analyst

“Privately operated UAVs are a big opportunity,” GoPro spokesman Jeff Brown said. “We believe the recent spike in adoption is attributable to the jaw-dropping video content generated by consumers.”

But DJI says creating a drone, is a more difficult task than making a camera.

“Generally, creating a new drone is much harder than creating a new phone or camera,” DJI spokesman Michael Perry said. “The levels of quality control and testing involved are significantly harder for teams with smaller R&D teams.”

Read the rest of this story here.

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