parrot bebop pro

Why are all of these enterprise drone packages terrible deals?

Bebop dronemaker Parrot this week announced a modeling bundle, targeted at professional real estate and building professionals.

The $1,099 Bebop-Pro 3D Modeling bundle claims to be “a high-performance tool to develop innovative marketing content like commercial videos and 3D interactive models, or to capture measurements for cost estimates or 3D model printing,” according to a news release. The product will be made available in May 2017.

Essentially, it’s a Parrot Bebop 2 with Skycontroller that also comes with a Pix4D license, some spare batteries and a backpack.

Here is the thing: the package doesn’t actually save you that much money. For $1,099, you would get:

Do the math, and the whole setup minus backpack costs $1,090 if purchased separately. Basically, this deal is netting you a free backpack. Nothing against free backpacks, but that’s essentially what this whole new product offering is.

Parrot, famous for making the first consumer drone, the AR.drone , acquired 3D digital mapping company Pix4D in 2012. Pix4D is certainly an interesting tool, allowing users to define an area to map. The Bebop 2 then flies over that zone based on its own optimized flight plan, collects images and data autonomously, and within 30 minutes analyzes the images and converts them into a 3D model. The Pix4D software is behind plenty of cool projects, including this high resolution model of the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

I was never particularly impressed with the Bebop 2 when I reviewed it (then $599), not including the SkyController.  Pix4D is a robust piece of software, but its also compatible with plenty of other drones, including the Phantom 3 and DJI Mavic Pro.

Parrot is not the only company to repackage its drones that suffered less-than-ideal sales as an enterprise solution. Berkeley-based startup 3D Robotics famously repositioned itself as an enterprise-focused company. It now sells its Solo drone for upwards of $12,175, repackaged now as an enterprise drone that comes with a Sony R10C camera, gimbal, and one year subscription to Site Scan, a piece of software that calculates and flies a flight path, integrating with Autodesk  to create 3D models.

3DR originally positioned itself as a consumer drone company in competition with DJI. The company’s “$100 million blunder based on ineptitude” caused massive layoffs. The once $1,000 Solo drone can now be found on Amazon (without Site Scan of course), for just $260.


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