Parrot is making a late attempt to corner the market of low-cost drones used for commercial purposes. The French drone maker was largely responsible for leading drones to mainstream popularity with its AR.toy drone, but became quickly dwarfed by Chinese drone behemoth DJI.
DJI’s Phantom drone rose to popularity as it gained rapid interest among everyone from hobby photographers to industries like law enforcement, search and rescue teams, agriculture and construction, who saw value in getting an aerial view of their commercial operations.
Recognizing that value, too, Parrot has broken into the market of relatively low-cost drones that are designed specifically for commercial use.
on Tuesday launched the $1,500 Bebop-Pro Thermal, a drone intended to reach an audience of small- to medium-sized businesses looking to get into drones. The drone is equipped with features including a thermal camera made by Flir
Percent of drones sold at each price point
A huge majority — 80% — of all drone purchases cost less than $2,000, according to a report from Skylogic Research, but Parrot is massively underrepresented in purchases at that price point.
Drones made by Parrot currently makes up just 1% of all drones used in the $1,000 to $1,999 price range (the company until today had not been selling drones at this price range). DJI dominates the list, with its products being used for 87% of the time among all drones costing between $1,000 and $1,999.
“It’s a business that we didn’t have before,” said Chris Roberts, Parrot chief officer for global sales and marketing.
Top drone brands costing between $1,000 and $1,999
Instead, Parrot has seen more sales volume in the low-cost drone category, with its drones making up 5% of all drones that were purchased for less than $1,000. The company has in previous years focused efforts on drones in the $100 to $200 range that were marketed toward children, as well as its Bebop line of lower cost camera drones.
Top drone brands costing less than $1,000
Parrot also owns high-end enterprise drone companies including SenseFly, Airinov and Pix4D.
“What we’re trying to do is we have the consumer business and the commercial business, and we’re trying to build the bridge in between,” Roberts said.
Parrot also announced the $5,000 Parrot Bluegrass, a drone designed specifically for agriculture which uses a multrispectral sensor, a sensor that can capture image data at specific frequencies across the electromagnetic spectrum.
Parrot has seen increased success in its commercial drone revenues. Commercial drones in the second quarter of 2017 generated 33% of total revenues, nearly $14 million, up 42% from the same quarter of 2016. Commercial sales make up just 19% of Parrot’s total sales volume.
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Parrot’s drone sales as a whole were up 72% in the second quarter of 2017 from the year prior.
Roberts said he hopes Parrot’s new drones will expose small businesses to how aerial data could enhance their businesses. From there, he said he hopes to capture new business that will ideally lead to more expensive drone purchases, he said.
“We’re creating a product that is easy to use for a small to medium-size enterprise, making it reachable,” he said. “This will educate the market on what drones can do.”
Parrot stock is up 22% in the past 12 months and is up 3.5% year to date.