The Chinese drone maker SZ DJI Technology Co Ltd has established a strong early lead in the U.S. commercial market as companies turn to its inexpensive, light-weight flying drones.
Shenzhen based DJI, whose best-selling Phantom 2 Vision+ drone retails for around $1,000 in the United States, estimates that it already has about 70 percent of the commercial market worldwide and a larger portion of the consumer market. Last year, the company did $500 million in revenue, and is expected to exceed $1 billion this year.
Industry experts say basic drones such as DJI’s are likely to drive the U.S. commercial market for the foreseeable future, meeting business demand for uses such as aerial photography for site inspections, real estate promotions and video production.
Venture capitalists and technology companies, from Boeing and GE to Qualcomm, are now pouring money into drone firms. An American outfit, 3D Robotics (founded by Chris Anderson), raised $50m in venture capital in February. Ehang Guangshi Technology, another Chinese drone startup, recently got $10m in venture-capital funding.