The best way to make money in the drone industry isn’t selling them. And it’s certainly not selling the software that powers them either. The top moneymaker within the drone industry is actually operating them.
Believe it or not, there’s money to be had in being a drone (pilot) of sorts. At least that’s according to the Drone Market Report 2021-2026, which was released in August 2021 by Germany-based analytics firm Drone Industry Insights (DII).
A part of its report, DII split the drone market into 3 segments: hardware, software and services. From there, it analyzed the revenue generated by each segment — and one segment in particular proved to be a huge moneymaker in terms of generating revenue.
Here’s the breakdown of what percent of revenue each segment generated for the drone industry:
- Services: 79.3%
- Hardware: 16.4%
- Software: 4.3%
What’s more, the service segment is only set to grow, expect to see 9.6% compound annual growth and reach $30.7 billion by 2026.
So what exactly is the big moneymaker within the drone services segment? Alas, it’s a bit more complicated than using a DJI Mavic for real estate photography. According to DII, the service segment is mainly driven by business-internal drone activities. That includes companies that use drone technology for their internal business processes, which could range from anything like a big oil company (like Shell) using drones to fly for miles to conduct inspections of pipelines to environmental regulators using drones to collect water samples.
The second largest share within the drone service segment is held by so-called Drone-Service-Providers (DSPs), who offer their services to third parties. That includes situations like deliveries, where it’s common for specialized drone companies to operate for major retailers (such as how DroneUp operates drone deliveries for Walmart).
Which industry is the biggest moneymaker for drone pilots?
But depending on what industry you are flying drones for, you could also make more or less money. If DII’s report is any indicator, target the energy industry. And other data corroborates DII’s report. For example, DroneDeploy said that flights jumped 74% and users increased 13% in 2020’s Q2 vs. Q1.
Meanwhile, global energy flights increased 123% and users increased 86% between 2018 and 2019. And companies like DroneBase have raised investor funding specific to their renewable energy efforts.
“The energy sector is still — and will continue to be — the top industry for commercial drones, followed by construction and agriculture,” according to its report.
That said, if you’re trying to get your foot in the door of a more nascent industry, look to drone deliveries. That’s because the fastest-growing drone market in 2021 and on is set to be cargo, courier, intralogistics and warehousing, with DII predicting a compound annual growth rate of 24.3%.
DII’s annual report has all sorts of interesting nuggets like these. Check out their full report for more.