DJI's market share 2020 China drone ban

What the China trade war did for the DJI’s market share in 2020

It’s been a wild year for Chinese drone makers — namely DJI. The Shenzhen-based company behind the DJI Phantom has been hit with security concerns, grappled with a broader U.S.-China trade war, and a spot on the U.S.’s restricted trade list. So what did all that tension mean for DJI’s market share?

We won’t bury the lede: not a lot. DJI’s market share has long hovered around 70%, and it’s still roughly the same. In case it wasn’t clear, 70% is massively high. Apple claimed just a 23.4 percent share of the worldwide smartphone market in the second quarter of 2020. Disney has a 26% market share of theme parks and resorts worldwide. In short: a market share of 70% is massively high for any industry.

German-based drone research firm Drone Industry Insights looked at the drone market share in July 2020. Their data looked holistically at all drones registered under Part 107 from January 2018 to July 2020. Since Part 107 requires all commercial drones weighing 0.55 pounds or more to be registered, the data may exclude drones smaller than that or used for purely hobby purposes. DII also filtered out all drones that cost less than $700 — again in an attempt to filter out hobby/toy drones.

DJI's market share drone industry insights 2020
Data and visualization by Drone Industry Insights.

To likely no surprise — and to little change over past years — DJI still leads the pack with a 76.1% market share. That’s only a 0.7% decline since the mid-2019 ranking, which DII said “is of little consequence given this magnitude of market power.”

Intel, Yuneec and Parrot also top the list of biggest drone companies of 2020 by market share, alongside a few new and interesting drone original equipment manufacturers. While Intel came out as No. 2, it’s not really because of the industrial-focused Falcon 8 and Falcon 8+ drones. No, it’s thanks to Intel’s Shooting Star drones. Intel flies hundreds of them in the air at one time to conduct its drone light shows, such as the widely-viewed Biden victory speech drone light show in November 2020.

American drone maker Skydio came in position No. 7 as biggest drone maker by market share, but it’ll be interesting to see if its latest $1 billion valuation could change that and bring Skydio higher.

DJI Mavic Air vs. Mavic Pro
A side-by-side of the DJI Mavic Pro (left) and the newer DJI Mavic Air.

The biggest single drone by market share is the Mavic Pro. The Mavic Air 2 didn’t come out on top, as it had only been on the market for a couple months by the time DII collected its data, but DII says it “stood out as the new box office hit.” Since then, DJI has also launched an all-new, racing-focused drone called the DJI FPV drone.

“Consequently, this also means that the drone ban has not resulted in a significant decline for DJI in terms of market share so far,” according to analysis from DII.

That might come as surprising given the whirlwind of a year that DJI has ha.

The U.S. banned use of Chinese drones by government agencies under the American Drone Security Act of 2019.  The U.S. government then added DJI to its restricted trade list in December 2020. Even more than half of the American public has said it wants to ban DJI drones.

Even with a market share that high, it’s clear that it’s not all smooth sailing for DJI.

“A dent in DJI’s reputation has definitely occurred in some parts of the industry thanks to the accusation,” DII wrote.

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