I was curious what you think of this. It feels like the dot com bubble to me. In that case the people that went under were a lot of hot air trying to tease out the market. After the bubble is when the internet really became useful. I think drones are the same thing. Now that the silly toy manufacturers are going, we're going to get serious about drone application. What do you guys think?
I reckon your analogy regarding the dot com mad rush is relevant in so much as here in Australia we had the dot com, tea tree and similar negative geared investment schemes that the tax department killed off and sent many hundreds of people to the wall. It has since died down and whilst those ventures still exist, they are much more mild/conservative. Same with drones, DJI had their business plan mapped long before the craze took off and had the financial clout and technical smarts to stay ahead of the game whilst catering for the prosumer and high end of town applications.
The other players in the game produced the low brow rubbish that litters the internet, intention being to make as much money as quickly as possible before the great unwashed realised that they had bought a pup. No parts, poor quality and performance and little chance of back up support.
Problem is that with the chinese economies of scale, there will always be a segment of the market that wants the cheap throw away quad, helo, flying thing that will invariably end up as landfill. Those of us that hang around will quickly sort the hay from the chaff and become brand loyal and I guess that’s where I am at the moment.
Will this group become a critical mass for change? Probably not as we are still seen as niche market of enthusiasts (in Australia anyway) and there will always be the next larger group moving through looking at a sensitive price point like banggood for an xyz product that is cheap, does all these crazy stuff until it doesn’t, rinse and repeat.
DJI in particular has stayed ahead of the market by forcing their customer base to do their beta testing. The Inspire, Mavic and Spark all had major issues at launch, but since they were the only game in town offering those features, people bought them anyway. Countless hours of free testing and data collection for DJI. They're doing it again with the FPV setup, but like the quads they build, I expect they WILL get a lot better with revision, and will continue to grow and occupy a section of the market.
The US is ripe for a revision of our air traffic control. It's understaffed, overstretched, and not utilizing the amount of sensing and processing ability that we have cheaply available. I see drones being a big part of the redesign, and as a staple for real-time sensing networks in the future. I see a system that works like an extension of GPS, and helps craft in the area avoid each other automatically. This would open the country up for more use of drones in industrial application, or for infrastructure management. Infrastructure in the US is falling down around our ears. Countless dams and bridges need to be inspected coast to coast. This list goes on.
The emerging drone technology is still at its infancy stage. The applications are just beginning to be realized and governments and regulators are trying to catch up.
The question is what companies will emerge as the premier providers of quality aircraft and applications?
To follow the dot com / internet analogy, remember AOL, EarthLink and several others who were first but nowhere to be found today?
What we see today in products will be considered primitive in five years and the airspace infer-structure will be like driving through the streets.
In the US the FAA is well on the way to setting up an air traffic control system for drones. Also drones in the very near future will all be equipped with beacons to identify their locations.
I think that’s why there needs to be a clear differentiation between commercial and recreational flying and the rules that will apply.
I’m pretty confident that strong manufacturers will emerge once there is a strong market and profit to be made. Up until now it’s really not been a big enough market for serious players to care about and I don’t think there is any risk in waiting before jumping in.