Editor’s note for August 2023: We have an update on this story, and it’s not good news for folks seeking an excellent, American-made camera drone. Skydio announced in August 2023 that it would sunset its consumer camera drone business to focus solely on enterprise and industrial drones. Visit that link to learn more about what happened — and where Skydio is going next.
Skydio consumer drones have been out of stock for an uncomfortably long time now, and it’s led to speculation online. No matter which configuration of the Skydio 2+ consumer drone kit you try to buy, every single consumer Skydio drone is sold out.
So is the California drone maker shutting down its consumer drone arm? Here’s the official answer behind why drones from Skydio are out of stock:
“The drones are out of stock due to high demand,” a company spokesperson told The Drone Girl this week in an email.
When you visit Skydio’s storefront, every single Skydio 2+ drone kit (that’s the Starter Kit, Sports Kit, Cinema Kit and Pro Kit) is listed as “out of stock” as of publication time. Skydio at one point sold some products on Amazon, but its Amazon storefront is also currently empty.
That’s all despite the fact that earlier this year, Skydio was promoting its drones heavily, including a $50 off deal that was running during President’s Day 2023 (which was near the end of February).
Skydio’s spokesperson team would not respond to direct questions around whether Skydio is still focusing on consumer drones, whether it intends to replenish inventory of its Skydio 2+ drones, or whether this means a new consumer drone like a Skydio 3 could be in the pipeline.
That said, a Skydio spokesperson said the company will be able to provide more answers later this year.
“We will have a firm update to share in the coming months and can provide answers to your questions at that time,” they added in the email.
In short, it seems that Skydio has simply become too successful. After all, a lot of people have been yearning for a follow-me camera drone that costs less than $1,100 and is made in America. And right now, Skydio 2+ is the only drone on the market that fits the bill, providing the perfect combination for drone enthusiasts, and particularly those who want an alternative to DJI.
Related read: Skydio 2 review: yes, it’s a freakishly smart drone
Will Skydio kill its consumer drones and go all in on enterprise drone markets?
But “too successful” might not be good enough for a drone company clamoring to be the biggest and best in a market that could be far more lucrative: the enterprise and industrial drone market. And the enterprise drone market is exactly what Skydio has been heavily leaning into lately . After all, the dollar figures make it clear exactly why Skydio’s sights are set there.
Last year’s global drone market was worth an estimated $30.6 billion overall, inclusive of both commercial and consumer drones, according to analysis from the Drone Market Report 2022 from Drone Industry Insights (DII) which a Germany-based research firm. DII’s report also put together a forecast of the drone industry’s Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) — and the projections don’t bode well for the consumer drone industry.
But while the CAGR on the commercial side of drones is set to expand at a rate of 8.3% through 2030, the overall drone market is only set to expand by a lesser 7.8%, based on DII’s forecasting model. That means the hobby side of things is dragging down the drone industry’s overall average CAGR.
In short, both the consumer and commercial side of drones have room for growth — but the commercial drone side has way more room for growth. And for companies like Skydio that only have so many resources, many industry experts are speculating that Skydio might be focusing its efforts on the side that has far more growth potential: the enterprise side of drones.
One notable expert seems to imply that could be the case:
“Among the more interesting tidbits from XPO23 (editor’s note: that’s a giant drone conference led by AUVSI) that I learned from reliable sources is that a major US drone manufacturer is going to exit the consumer market, to focus only on enterprise/government/military,” wrote Brendan Schulman on his Twitter account. Schulman is currently VP of Policy at BostonDynamics and formerly worked as VP of Policy at DJI. Of course, Schulman has no official connection to Skydio — and he doesn’t even reference Skydio specifically in his tweet — but Schulman’s influence in the drone industry gives his speculation some weight. (Editor’s note: There is no clear answer whether Schulman is referencing Skydio or whether Skydio will exit the consumer market, as the tweet above is purely speculative).
Skydio’s commitment to the commercial drone market
If there is one piece of speculation that feels quite definitive is that Skydio as a whole isn’t going anywhere, thanks to the Silicon Valley drone maker’s robust growth on the enterprise side. Its commercial products include the Skydio X2 drone and related products like adaptive mapping software Skydio 3D Scan.
The Skydio X2 is a drone that began shipping in spring 2021 as a lookalike to the Skydio 2 drones on the outside — but with steroids on the inside. That’s all thanks to added features like dual color/thermal sensors that were designed specifically for defense, public sector and enterprise customers.
The Skydio X2 drone is sold in two configurations, the X2D and X2E:
Skydio X2D: This version is designed for defense and federal agencies and is approved by the U.S. government as a trusted solution for the US Department of Defense and is a National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) compliant solution.
Skydio X2E: This version is intended for enterprises, first responders, and civilian agencies.
Both drones start at $11,000 (and sometimes more, depending on the specs you add), which is much more expensive than the roughly $1,000 you’ll spend on the consumer version of the Skydio 2 drone.
And Skydio’s enterprise drone has some pretty major users. Just this month, Skydio received approval from the Japan Civil Aviation Bureau (JCAB) to remotely fly drones using Skydio Dock and Remote Ops beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS). Also this summer, it announced it was working with the Alaska Rural Remote Operations Work Plan (ARROW) Program to test BVLOS flights around rural Alaska communities. It’s also worked closely with other major giants including Taser-maker Axon and natural gas company Dominion Energy.
What could the Skydio out of stock news mean for consumer drones?
If Skydio does opt to never restock its Skydio 2+ drones — or come out with something even better for consumers, like a Skydio 3 — then Skydio very much could be perhaps the most notable example of American drone companies failing to succeed at producing consumer camera drones that are made in America over the long-term.
Other notable American camera drone companies that are no more include GoPro and 3D Robotics, both of which killed their commercial products to focus attention elsewhere. For GoPro, that meant its bread and butter: action cameras. For 3D Robotics, that meant a short-lived pivot to the commercial side (which also ultimately failed).
Though, some drone industry enthusiasts aren’t giving up hope that Skydio will dump its consumer drones completely. Given that consumer drones are essentially stripped-down versions of enterprise drones, some think the company would be wise to cash in on both sides of the drone industry.
“They do have a huge enterprise market that makes most of their money I’m sure, but it’s enough to pass some of the updates and bonuses to the consumer side,” one commenter speculated on Reddit.
And Skydio very well could do both. Another major drone maker, Sony, has proven it’s possible after finding itself straddling both the photography and industrial side too. It initially pitched its Airpeak S1 drone as the ultimate flying machine for its beloved lineup of Alpha cameras. But when the company realized that many of its users came from fields like precision mapping and surveying, it released updates to the Airpeak drone in spring 2023 specifically targeted at industrial applications, including an RTK system.
How you can still get your hands on a Skydio drone
If you still do want a Skydio drone — and aren’t willing to gamble to see if Skydio will release more consumer drones in the future — then you have a few options.
There are plenty of Skydio drones on the resale market, just beware the risks of buying used drones.
Otherwise, you can probably get one brand-new, directly from Skydio — if you’re willing to shell out big bucks. The Skydio 2+ Enterprise Kit does appear to be in stock, but it’ll cost about $5,000. It adds on bells and whistles that the consumer drones didn’t offer, including Skydio Autonomy Enterprise software and enterprise-level support.
By the way, you can’t just add the Skydio 2+ Enterprise Kit to your shopping cart and click checkout. To order, you’ll have to contact Skydio directly.
Do you have any opinions on the direction of the company give the news around drones from Skydio out of stock? Leave a comment below!