Drone industry outlook 2023

Our ever-analytic pals at Drone Industry Insights have released their latest take on the direction the drone industry has been taking in 2023.

It is going up.

But what we found most encouraging with this latest report is the fact that the industry has made enough of a bump in Africa to get mention in this synopsis.

Of course, we still have a lot to catch up with the big markets in Asia and North America; but it should be a good sign for industry stakeholders on the continent that finally, there efforts are beginning to get noticed.

We hope you enjoy this read. We found it enlightening.

Drones have become indispensable tools for businesses, enabling efficient inspections, precise mapping, and transforming the way goods are delivered among other activities.

That is why the overall drone market (both commercial and recreational) is set to grow to US$54.6 billion by 2030 at a rate of 7.1 percent CAGR. However, the commercial drone market is forecast to grow (7.7 percent CAGR) while the recreational one will essentially remain stagnant (-0.3 percent CAGR).

The latest edition of the annual commercial drone market report, based on data from 181 countries, provides valuable insights into the future of the commercial drone market. To celebrate its release, here is a glimpse into the make takeaways regarding market segments, industry adoption, application methods, regional dynamics, and a note on the importance of nuanced opportunities.

Segment Analysis: Driven by Services, Hardware Rising

As customary, we split the commercial drone market into three segments: hardware, software, and services. Commercial drone hardware encompasses drone platform manufacturers, components, and systems manufacturers.

Meanwhile, software includes companies working on flight planning, navigation, data analytics, and fleet management.

Lastly, the service segment features all types of drone companies who provide services to other companies such as inspections, mapping, deliveries, or any other type of service.

In 2023, services dominate with a staggering 80 percent of market activity while the hardware segment is projected to experience the fastest growth at a remarkable rate of 9.3 percent CAGR.

Industry Analysis: Energy Reigns Supreme, Cargo and Warehousing Take Flight

Within the commercial drone market, the energy industry remains dominant, leveraging drones for inspections, monitoring, and maintenance across vital utilities such as oil and gas extraction and power generation (e.g. wind turbines, power lines).

In these fields, drones provide unique advantages for inspecting chimneys, refineries, powerlines, transmission towers, pipelines, and off-shore platforms. That is why this industry vertical is set to grow from US$4.66 billion to a drone market worth US$7.43 billion in 2030.

The fastest-growing vertical is Cargo, Courier, and Warehousing (15.7 percent CAGR), driven by the increasing demand for drone delivery and efficient inventory management. Giants like Walmart, Amazon, UPS, and FedEx are often discussed when it comes to drone deliveries, but it is hundreds of smaller drone companies all around the globe that are revolutionizing logistics and supply chain operations by building up their drone delivery operations.

Another important factor for this industry vertical’s growth is that it overlaps strongly with business-internal services. This is when a company uses drones for internal operations (e.g. warehouse inspections) rather than selling an external service.

Application Methods: Mapping and Surveying Lead the Way, Delivery Takes Off

When it comes to commercial drone applications, mapping and surveying take centre stage. Industries such as construction, mining, and agriculture benefit immensely from the precision and efficiency of drones in capturing geospatial data. In 2023, drone mapping and surveying around the world is a market currently worth US$10 billion. 

Once again, the most exciting growth is seen in drone delivery. Despite a lack of flashy headlines or negative updates about projects like Amazon drone delivery, drone deliveries are set to grow at a global rate of 13.9 percent CAGR. The delivery method will make its biggest impact in sectors like healthcare (e.g. vaccines and samples), emergency services (e.g. defibrillators and life vests), and logistics (e.g. packages and food).

Here it is also important to note the difference between drone delivery as an application method that any company could carry out (e.g. a retailer like Walmart doing drone deliveries), and the aforementioned Cargo, Courier & Warehousing as an industry, where the business model and industry is focused on these types of logistics (e.g. UPS and FedEx).

Regional Analysis: Asia Dominates, Middle East and Africa Soar

Asia remains the largest market for commercial drones, with China leading the charge. However, the Middle East & Africa region is experiencing remarkable growth, outpacing other regions with a projected CAGR of 15.4 percent. These regional dynamics highlight the global impact of commercial drones and the diverse opportunities they present. In addition to the global and regional insights, our latest report takes a close look at: USA, Canada, Brazil, Germany, UK, France, China, Japan, South Korea, and Australia.

Commercial Drone Unit Sales: A Steady Rise in Demand

The demand for commercial drones continues to surge, with unit sales projected to grow at a steady rate of 9.2 percent CAGR. Commercial prosumer drones, priced below US$10,000, cater to a wide range of industries, while professional drones, priced above US$10,000, offer advanced capabilities for specialized applications.

This steady rise in demand signifies the increasing adoption of commercial drones across sectors and the immense potential for businesses to leverage their benefits.

Nuanced Opportunities: Navigating the Path to Success

In the ever-evolving commercial drone market, success lies in understanding the nuanced opportunities that arise. It’s crucial to recognize that the top market or fastest-growing segment may not be a direct combination of specific factors. Instead, it requires a comprehensive understanding of the interplay between various elements.

Staying informed about emerging trends, technological advancements, and regulatory developments is essential for businesses aiming to capitalize on the immense potential of the commercial drone market.

As businesses embrace the proven benefits of drone technology, it is crucial to stay informed, adapt to evolving technologies, and seize opportunities. The commercial drone market offers a world of possibilities, and those who harness its potential will gain a competitive edge.

The latest data on the commercial drone market provides business developers and entrepreneurs with a unique advantage for their business plans to target the market segments with the highest potential.


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