After laying off a third of its workforce a few months ago, Parrot just announced that they are launching a Professional division focused exclusively on the “prosumer” market.
Parrot currently has an expensive line of commercial drones that sell for $11,000 and up, and a line of consumer drones that sell for as little as $100. The new Professional division will focus on the sweet spot between these two extremes, with drones that will be sold in the $1,000 to $5,000 range for small and medium business applications.
Drones in this “prosumer”-focused division will be aimed at supporting commercial applications such as construction and agriculture, with tools that can be operated without the need for a professional pilot.
This announcement from Parrot comes right on the heels of 3D Robotics releasing the news that they raised $53 million in a series D funding round, with the money raised going to support the growth of their construction-focused platform Site Scan.
This news, along with DJI’s recently released Matrice series and Yuneec’s Typhoon H920, is making it look more and more like construction and ag applications may be the biggest new sectors for growth in the drone industry.
THE DRONES OF PARROT’S NEW PROFESSIONAL DIVISION
Parrot’s new Professional division will add additional features and technology to existing drones in Parrot’s portfolio—such as the Disco and the Bebop—to make them suitable for construction, agriculture, real estate, and other applications.
Three of the drones that have been announced for inclusion in Parrot’s Professional division are basically upgraded versions of the two Parrot drones mentioned above, the Bebop and the Disco.
The Disco-Pro AG
The Disco-Pro is an upgraded version of the Disco, which comes with high-performance sensors and autonomous flight-planning software, aimed at gathering data for farmers and agricultural cooperatives. The Disco-Pro will be available for $4,500 starting in June.
“[The Disco-Pro AG] offers farmers and small agricultural cooperatives an ‘end-to-end’ solution to easily and quickly obtain reliable information on the state of their crops, such as wheat, barley, colza and corn.”
The Bebop-Pro 3D
Applications: Construction and Real Estate
The Bebop-Pro 3D is an upgraded version of the Bebop Pro, which comes with aerial image capture for 3D modeling, and is aimed primarily at the construction and real estate markets. The Bebop-Pro 3D will be available for $1,100 starting in June.
“The Bebop-Pro 3D is especially targeted at professionals including real-estate agents, architects, craftsmen and property insurance brokers.… and enables them to easily create promotional videos or interactive 3D models, to build quotes of a building, to supervise a worksite and to print 3D models.”
The Bebop-Pro Thermal
Applications: Construction and Real Estate
The Bebop-Pro Thermal is an upgraded version of the Bebop Pro, which comes with a thermal imaging camera, and is also aimed primarily at the construction and real estate markets. Release date and price haven’t yet been announced for the Thermal.
“[The Bebop-Pro Thermal] enables inspection and thermal detection companies, roofers, plumbers, building workers, and also firefighters, to get thermal and radiometry information, live and/or in pictures.”
Parrot is one of the few companies that actually competes with DJI, but the competition is quite stiff.
DJI holds 50% of the market share for commercial and consumer drones in North America, according to Colin Snow of Skylogic Research. For drones in the $500 to $1,000 price range, DJI held about 36% of the market by units sold in North America last year. In comparison, Parrot captured around 7% of the market in the same price range.
As we said at the opening to this article, Parrot recently laid off 300 employees, which represented about a third of its entire drone personnel.
Following the layoffs Parrot reorganized to focus on UAVs for commercial applications. The announcement of Parrot’s new Professional division is the first major step forward in this reorganization.
The primary cause of Parrot going through such radical restructuring is that they have essentially lost the consumer battle to DJI. In the fourth quarter of 2016 Parrot’s consumer sales were down 15%, and projections showed that consumer sales were unlikely to generate profitable growth, and the layoffs and restructuring ensued.
However, when it comes to high end commercial drones, Parrot may have a leg up.
Unlike DJI, Parrot has been working in the agriculture and construction sectors of the drone industry for many years, primarily through its commercial subsidiary Sensefly, which sells a wide range of drones that range in price between $11,000 and $25,000.
Sensefly partnered with the ag platform Agribotix not too long ago, and it looks like Parrot may be poising itself to corner the prosumer drone market with this new launch of their Professional division.