Updated: A previous version of this post stated that Luo Zhenhua is the vice-president of DJI. Luo Zhenhua is now the president of DJI.

The drone industry has not gone cold, said DJI president Luo Zhenhua (Roger Luo) in an interview with Phoenix News (in Chinese). The Shenzhen-based drone maker is currently the world’s top seller of consumer drones, with a global market share of 70%.

During the last two years, many UAV companies have gone through a reform period, laying off workers as competition has gotten fiercer and startups found it harder to convince investors in their profitability. This has sparked doubts over the rise of the consumer drone market which was additionally hit in China with stricter regulation for personal use of drones.

However, according to Luo, this impression is a bit wrong, adding that they still need to be careful since “drones are not like mobile phones.” When people say that the industry is hot, they mean that the capital is hot, and now capital is back to reason, he said.

It could be said that Chinese drones rule the sky. China is one of the largest manufacturers of drones globally with 70 % of its output being sold abroad. The Chinese Ministry of Industry and IT expects the sector to grow 40% each year by 2020 and 25% after that.

DJI expects its sales will reach RMB 18 billion ($2.7 billion) in 2017. Sales in 2016 increased by 65% year on year breaking the RMB 1 billion point. Consumer drones accounted for 80% of the profit. In 2018, DJI is planning on expanding its staff with special attention to the agriculture sector. The company has recently upped its stakes in the agricultural drone area by lowering the price of its drones by 12%—a move that has got its competitors worried. DJI holds 70% of the agricultural drone market. However, the company is yet to make a profit in that field.

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Masha Borak

Masha Borak is a technology reporter based in Beijing. Write to her at masha.borak [at] technode.com. Pitches with the word "disruptive" will be ignored. Read a good book - learn some more adjectives.

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