In the mid-2010s, everyone, it seems was into the drone hobby. Big tech players Mlike GoPro raced to build their own drones (often without success). They were under millions of Christmas trees, easily acquired not via the North Pole, but via the Apple Store to Costco. Even Barbie had a drone.
But as many trends go, the drone hobby faded away among all but the most devoted. Vacationers decided a selfie stick accomplished nearly the same goal, without the concern over registration. Kids got into their Nintendo Switch, leaving the drones in the closet.
Then, coronavirus happened. And some in the industry think that lockdowns might have been responsible for a revival.
Drone research company Drone Analyst studied Google Trends global data around keywords that suggest high purchasing intent such as “best drones” and “buy drone,” and their results were telling.
“The peak in April and May of this year was tied for the largest non-holiday month, back in July of 2017,” according to Drone Analyst’s report.
It makes sense in a lot of ways. While you can certainly fly on a drone racing team or at a flying field, such as an AMA field, drones are a fairly solitary activity (or at least, easily can be). Most drone flights occur in remote places anyway to avoid flying over crowds or buildings. Take a drone on your next road trip, and typically no one will mind you taking photos of rock formations in the middle of nowhere (meanwhile, you get a great photo).
Plus, it’s fairly easy to maintain your drone hobby indoors, even, and drones lend themselves well to online content and communities, which are also growing as people cut down on in-person interaction.
And it could just be that all hobbies, whether it’s baking sourdough bread or learning new instruments or languages, are seeing an uptick as most people have more free time not having to cook or show up at Happy Hours. Between learning to fly, actually flying and editing footage, the drone hobby is certainly a time commitment.
Either way, the news is likely to be a welcome relief for players in the consumer drone industry, who’ve had to deal with slowing consumer drone growth in 2019.
What’s more: drones available now are cheaper than ever. Today, you can buy the Mavic Air 2 (which comes with an integrated camera) for less than $800, or a Mavic Mini for half that, at less than $400.