DJI Unveils New ‘Feature’ To Spy On Drone Owners, Continues To Dominate Market

What is it with people these days flying their drones into planes? Were you not able to see the fucking plane? Or perhaps, you just wanted to see ‘what would happen if you hit it’?

I have been following the drone industry with abiding interest since 2016 when I went head first into that industry, performing inspections on transmission lines and generating topographic maps. The growth experienced from the end of 2015 to the end of 2016 in the industry was unreal, and the general market went from makeshift DIY type enthusiast based to first tier, fully equip drones for the mass public. The leader, naturally, was DJI, who still continues to dominate the market and is still growing at an impressive rate.

We reached a point in 2016, where the technology got so advanced it felt no drastic innovation would occur for some time. I expected a period of consolidation, where technologists and engineers could fine tune their technology and regulators could catch up to what was to them considered an undesirable, yet inevitable transition. The entire industry waited anxiously for lawmakers to announce what they knew would be game-changing regulation, a process that had already begun years too late.

The regulation in the US at that time required professional drone pilots to obtain a complete pilot license to be able to operate drones on their own, which was not only ridiculous, but also an indication of how little governments understood. People that wanted to shoot videos, or get into aerial imagery and mapping, began applying for a hot air balloon operator license – which happens to enjoy ‘pilot’ license status and is considered the fastest and least onerous route to becoming a recognized pilot. In Canada, where I was, regulation was shroud in a blanket of ambiguity and inconvenience, requiring pilots to apply for permits for every single job they did, 3 weeks prior to the start date, that would be considered case by case.

This discouraged a lot of UAV enthusiasts from pursuing careers in this area, and I expected a large reduction in demand for UAVs to shortly ensue, in turn reducing profits of drone manufacturers, indirectly lowering budgets and slowing innovation. The only DJI store in my city closed its doors, and I thought we had peaked, at least for the time being. The exact opposite happened.

Without warning, people stopped caring and went nuts, making videos of themselves doing degenerate shit, flying their drones vigorously into birds, people, buildings, and anything they possibly could. Sales went through the roof, and DJI closed favorable deals with companies like Apple, allowing them to shove drones down the throats of unsuspecting iPhone buyers. DJI executives were foaming at the mouth, as they were at the forefront in what was, ostensibly, a runaway bull market, and every uptick in market size was theirs to keep.

So what happened?

Rather than expanding outwards they went vertical, producing apps and breeding a culture, similar to that of Apple after the first iPhone launch. Instead of adding new innovations, they focused on variants, making drones that fit into your pocket, naturally, so you can get away with doing illegal shit. This has given them complete and unfettered control over the industry, as people now resonate the term ‘drones’ with DJI, a symbol of class, reliability, and culture. Buyers of any other drone makers understand that they buying into sub-quality trash, destined to fall apart in mid-air, if not fly away uncontrollably to outer space.

Last week, DJI announced the creation of AeroScope, a way to ‘track’ drone locations, perhaps a response to concerned lawmakers. In other words, they are now able to see there whereabouts of all drones and identify them, and would not be surprised if they could access cameras and take over controls as well. With that, DJI has effectively taken over the entire ecosystem, from manufacturing, to innovation, to social media sharing, and now even the policing, and hardly anybody is aware that it has happened.

Without question, there will be backlash once the realities of this newfound technology settles onto the public. I don’t, however, see this as a negative as it is my belief that drones are now superfluous and can be an optimal tool for use with malice intent. In the meantime, the opinions of players involved are likely to ignite emotions, but through all the obfuscation, DJI will continue to grow.

This company will eventually come public and when it does, I can’t wait to buy in.