Feature: Page (1) of 1 - 04/07/17

Has the Consumer Drone Bubble Burst

By Brandon Gordon

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Not many years ago, the term "drone" would have only been associated with advanced military technology used in unmanned aerial warfare. Also known as UAVs, or unmanned aerial vehicles, drones have been a significant factor in the strategy of the U.S. military for quite some time. However, in recent years, drones have exploded into the domestic consumer market. From YouTubers to independent filmmakers, drones are now far more commonplace in the lives of the average civilian than ever before. However, due to numerous factors, the drone market has seemingly hit its plateau quite early on in its life cycle.

The phenomenon occurring within the drone market is known as "bubble economics", meaning that the current trends of the market are not sustainable and will decline rapidly as time goes on. According to an article on wetalkuav.com, many large companies that had high hopes for the drone market have seen their investments fall short of expectations. A good example of this was the huge investment into a Chinese startup company named Yuneec by tech giant Intel. Intel funneled a large sum of cash into this startup, hoping to capture a large segment of the rapidly expanding consumer drone market.

However, this turned out to be a classic case of misunderstanding consumer wants and needs. Yuneec released drones that could best be described as raw and unfinished, overflowing with both hardware and software bugs that made the asking price for the product seem extremely unreasonable.

As it turns out, this has been a commonplace problem for many big players in the consumer drone market. Drone production companies have put a misguided emphasis on portability, rather than quality technology. In the tech world, research and development is often the most important component of a successful business model, but major players in the drone market have seemingly lost sight of this. With an enormous amount of money being invested into failed projects, the drone market thus far has not been able to properly find its footing. As such, the market as a whole is being labeled a "bubble economy" because the large investment amounts are not resulting in enough return.

When consumer drones first became a reality, it was the biggest story in technology. Every techie had to get their hands on one, and the market seemed extremely profitable. The possibilities seemed endless for what consumers would use drones for. Drone videos were becoming the most popular thing to use for videography and mapping because it could get a perspective like nothing else before. However, consumers have begun to lose interest in the market as quality products continue not to be produced at reasonable prices. When you couple high prices with a low quality product, the consumer market is going to lose interest regardless of how interested they were initially in the new technology. If the drone market hopes to recover from this bubble economy, the relevant investors and producers will have to majorly step up their game in the research and development segment of their business models.

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