Drone researcher asks… What is an typical drone company?

We are so hurt.

We feel betrayed and let down and disappointed and upset and saddened and… everything that dispirits a person’s soul.

We thought the guys over at Drone Industry Insights were our friends. And all along things have been progressing swimmingly – until today when they released data on the typical features that qualify an organisation as a typical drone enterprise.

Apparently, all the media proprietors and content creators dedicated solely to drone technology in the world are not enough to make a dent on the pie chart that DII published.

And it is such a beautiful pie chart too, divided into twelve slices. The largest piece was unsurprisingly claimed by companies involved in drone services operations; while three categories of drone technology – training and education provision, hardware manufacturing and software manufacturing – took decent chunks of the pie each for themselves.

In-house drone operations, components and systems manufacturing, and drone engineering/systems integration also claimed sizeable shares.

Then counter UAS operations, passenger drone manufacturers, drone maintenance and drone insurance providers also managed to grab pieces for themselves too, albeit those slices were as thin as nails.

But there was no space whatsoever for media services dedicated to drone technology.

Instead, we were all bunched together into one big slice of the pie under the label, Others.


Along with criminals that fly drones into correctional facilities carrying contraband; disturb flights at airports; or ogle at unsuspecting people in their own homes.


They knew what they were doing, those cheek little… urghhh…

“Our latest survey confirms that the drone industry is a service-oriented industry,” Drone Industry Insights says of its own research, which it acknowledges is not complete yet.

But 1,113 responses so far is still a good reflection of the industry as a whole, DII reckons.

“That means that the biggest share of activity taking place are drone companies that use drones to provide services to others. This includes inspections, deliveries, photography, surveying… and many other application methods in dozens of industries.

“Officially, the second most common activity in the global industry is Drone Training and Education Services. This makes sense considering that the continuous growth of the market leads to more and more opportunities for those who wish know how to operate drones safely and effectively.”

We recently made our thoughts clear about drone training services, especially in Africa, on this piece here; we were worried that the training has concentrated heavily on only pilot training, while everything else has been ignored.

Presumably, it is because pilot training is a low hanging fruit, providing a quick buck for trainers, who then leave new pilots to their own devices on the job market.

There is a lot of grey in Africa…

But we digress.

We actually might have exaggerated our dismay with the DII folks; we really do not mind staying in the background, cheerleading and shining a light on the heroic people who are actually in the field building drones or using them to provide services that people find useful in their community or business lives.

The real worry is on Africa still lagging behind the rest of the world in spawning enterprises serving the drone industries. We understand when the USA, Japan and China lead the world when it comes to the numbers of drone companies in these locations.

But only twelve countries on the African continent – South Africa, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Tanzania, Kenya, Rwanda, Cameroun, Nigeria, Ghana, Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco have a semblance of colour representing the presence of serious drone operations going on.

That is a cause for concern; and our unqualified guess for this is that most countries on the continent still view drone technology with suspicion; hence they have laws that discourage the industry’s growth and expansion within their borders.

(Although we are really surprised that Rwanda is in grey, given how Zipline is literally covering the whole country with drone deliveries; and there is Charis UAS offering services.

Or Malawi too, for that matter, which is home to the biggest drone academy on the continent, one of the biggest drone corridors in the world; and houses operations by at least three delivery drone companies, not to mention drone services proprietorships by young graduates from the African Drone and Data Academy.

Tough luck guys; we guess you’re in the Others with the rest of us…)

“When looking at drone companies in general, it is hard to define an “average” when it comes to location,” the researcher says.

“And although our survey has different degrees of penetration in various regions, it is safe to say that North America and Asia remain the top drone regions in the world. Therefore, despite not knowing the exact number of drone companies that are active all over the world, we can say that a large concentration of drone companies are located in the US, China, and Japan.”

Not all drone companies are DJI – the majority have an average of 10 employees

They even have an explanation for the “Other” label on their pie too.

“It is worth noting that the data still needs to be broken down and classified further. Oftentimes, a company that does more than one activity will classify themselves as “Other”, which is why that is currently the second largest category in the graphic above.

“For other questions, the specific data will need to be cleaned and consolidated, such as when the survey system turned a 10 percent into a 1; or if Excel turned a 1-10 into an October 1st.”

See? See! It’s their broken machines that have us in this mess.

“But the upshot is that drone industry is so diverse that there is likely no such thing as an “average drone company”.

“And that is why we will begin a series of articles about several regions and countries. It is imperative to emphasize that these will not be in-depth authoritative research on country markets like the Drone Market Studies we’ve done about Germany, Switzerland, Norway, etc.

“Instead, they are meant to provide a brief glimpse into these regions and countries based on data from our latest survey alone.”


We should the folks at Drone Industry Insights to Westeros, North of the Wall, and secure them a meeting with the actual Others…


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