The following is an excerpt of a piece I wrote for MarketWatch. Read the entire story here.
The consumer drone world is crashing.
In September, California drone company 3D Robotics laid off 150 members of its staff. Two months later, GoPro Inc. GPRO, -0.86% announced it would lay off 200 employees after recalling its Karma drone because they were falling from the sky. Parrot SA PARRO, -0.82% , which makes the Bebop drone, announced in January a plan to reduce its drone team of 840 employees by 290 people—about one-third. In January, the makers of Lily, a widely-hyped drone that never actually made it to market, announced they were calling it quits.
So what’s left? Mostly SZ DJI Technology Co. Ltd., a private Chinese company that some analysts believe has a market share as high as 85%. DJI, with a valuation of $8 billion, says sales volume in 2015 was 100 times more than that of 2011. The company rose to popularity with its ready-to-fly Phantom drone, and recently introduced a wildly popular, foldable drone called the Mavic.
But there are other companies still fighting for the dwindling market share that DJI does not own. Mota Group Inc. hopes to go public with its lineup of cheaper drones. Yuneec International and Autel Robotics, both Chinese drone manufacturers, are solid contenders to hang on in the high-end drone fight with DJI, and they’re working to avoid or face down the many problems that damaged other competitors.