In the latest hit in the Drone Industry, Autel Robotics has regretfully noted layoffs. While it is not a complete surprise given the latest round of layoffs at other companies, it wasn’t as if Autel had a problem with the products it was releasing. Its flagship line the X-Star was successfully launched in April 2016. To be fair, the model has received praised for its X-Star model. Although many considered it to be a knockoff of DJI’s Phantom Series, many customers were not as phased by this point.
What is unusual about this is the drone industry has been forecast with an optimistic future as sales have been predicted to set to top at $12 Billion in 2021 which is up from its previous forecast of $8 Billion. What has driven this optimism is competition, lowering of prices as well as technological advances as reported by Business Insider. So what gives? Why the lay-offs at Autel Robotics as well as Parrot and Go Pro? The reason is simple: the basic rules of Capitalism apply here.
For one, it reasons very strong competition from DJI. Given the innovations of this company, it is very hard for companies to compete against this. Drones are of a higher end quality and controls the process from design to manufacturing. It helps DJI’s position to have gotten aggressive on price. Which leads to part of Autel’s situation:
Part of the problem with Autel is that the design is more borrowed than innovative. Indeed, many of these failures are the result of borrowing a cookie-cutter type design. As the number of drone companies grow, apathy on the consumer’s end is also apparent. Add to that, an overinflated value of products out there as well as not realizing how hard the industry can actually be. Case in point: GoPro’s Karma. The company threw everything it had out there at this product and in the end, reported power outages killed the product. It seems that research and development were not a strong suite on this. The drone industry ultimately does apply to the old saying that what goes up, most go down. In this case, the industry rode a high wave only to crash as consumers voted with its dollars.
A Quick Study Of Autel:
Autel was always praised for its embracing of consumers with a strong customer service and taking the extra step towards its pilots. In August 2016, they did something that was not considered before: They offered to pay for customers Part 107 tests. “We want to make professional drone use easy and accessible to wide variety of business users, and paying for the testing fees for our users is one small way we’re helping customers learn about how drones can make their businesses more profitable, safer and more productive,” Autel Robotics USA CEO Steve McIrvin said. Needless to say, customers embraced Autel back but perhaps to a limited extent.
Autel Born Under A Bad Sign?
So is this a bad sign of things to come? Not necessarily. As with any industry, reinventing oneself is a must have part of the process. Their latest release of the X-Star Premium showcases a 360 camera, as well as the ability to upgrade the camera to a higher quality as well as sensors design, shows Autel’s ongoing commitment to research and development. Both consumers and reviewers were quick to claim positive reviews on this product.
As the drone industry develops, there will be many changes and unforeseen unfortunate events such as the layoffs that Autel and other drone companies have recently had. Is the future of Autel not what it seemed to be in the past? Only time can tell on that. One thing is clear: drones are here to stay and the more research and innovation is provided, the better those companies will endure.
Thank you for reading!