Yesterday’s news that Lily–once a darling of the drone community–had been forced to shut down after being unable to raise enough money to complete production, was just the latest proof that everyone interested in drones is living in DJI’s world. Other recent examples are big layoffs at France’s Parrot, the failure of 3D Robotics’ consumer drone business, and even the inability of GoPro to make a dent with its Karma drone–which was delayed for a year, and then grounded almost immediately after launch due to technical problems.
The general awareness that China’s DJI is far and away the industry leader, across a wide range of price points and use cases, may explain why investors are putting less money into drones than they were a year ago. Data provided to Fast Company by Pitchbook shows that although the number of investments made in 2016 was precisely the same as the year before (183), the dollars fell by 21.8%, from $1.47 billion in 2015 to $1.15 billion in 2016. There are surely other factors involved, but it’s hard to imagine that DJI’s dominance isn’t scaring potential competitors away.
[Chart Courtesy of Pitchbook]