Best Drone Delivery Companies to Watch in 2020 - Matching Drones to Phones
Updated: Dec 6, 2019
We recently had a conversation with someone new to drone delivery and learned the best way to breakdown the industry was matching the drone companies of today like DJI & Zipline with phone companies like Apple and Samsung to give newcomers context of where the industry is and where it could potentially be going.
To start, today drone delivery is not yet at the smartphone stage of phones, it is at the brick and mortar stage. You remember that slick Motorola Razor or the Nokia 1100 you once had. In 1995, these phones were the craze of the day with their bulky shells and antennas. Drone delivery is at this stage right now as users still figure out how to improve the technology and identify use cases to serve real needs.
Drone delivery is optimistic that it's heading towards the smartphone phase. So let's look at the drone delivery companies shaping the future in 2020. Want to emphasize we're focusing on drones in the delivery space not surveillance.
Drone Company: DJI (China)
Smartphone Mimic: Apple
Reason Why: Leading manufacturer of both hardware and software with strong brand recognition. No doubt a closed loop approach like Apple.
Drone Company: Auterion (Swiss)
Smartphone Mimic: Microsoft
Reason Why: Focused on providing software like Windows for drones. No hardware but works with hardware companies like Microsoft would with HP.
Drone Company: Yuenic (China)
Smartphone Mimic: Huawei
Reason Why: Like Huawei, Yuneec seems to be playing nice with others developing their hardware and contributing to the drone community via Dronecode (Linux Foundation). Huawei however recently pulled out (No more Android) and we suspect Yuneec could do the same one day.
Drone Company: Zipline (USA)
Smartphone Mimic: IBM
Reason Why: IBM actually made the first smartphone (The Simon). Zipline is also seen that way as the first commercial drone delivery company with actually live operations.
Drone Company: Avy (Netherlands)
Smartphone Mimic: Nokia
Reason Why: Nokia sold 250 Million Units of the 1100. Source. We see similar traits in Avy from the early days of Nokia with local backing from govt and talented staff in the Netherlands. There drones solve real use cases like medical deliveries and wildlife conservation.
Drone Company: Matternet (Swiss)
Smartphone Mimic: Motorola
Reason Why: The Razor was the buzz of the town selling 130 Million units. Source. We are seeing similar buzz around Matternet signing partnerships with UPS and Swiss Post.
Drone Company: Swoop Aero (Australian)
Smartphone Mimic: Samsung
Reason Why: In 2018, Samsung sold close to 300 Mil Units. Source. Swoop Aero is expanding fast developing great hardware and collaborating with the drone community.
Drone Company: Wing (USA)
Smartphone Mimic: Google
Reason Why: Wing is a Google product that received the first certification to operate in the U.S. Source. Like all Google products, the question is how does this tie in with their entire portfolio of products, perhaps Shopping.
Drone Company: Amazon Prime Air (USA)
Smartphone Mimic: Amazon Fire Phone
Reason Why: The Fire Phone was not a great success but led to the core development of Alexa. Likelihood is high that Amazon's drone operations will also spin out into something great.
It is difficult to say how the industry will shake out. If we told you back in 2005 that Nokia would be dethroned (having had 44% market share) or that Apple would enter into phone market (unveiling a phone costing twice as much as their competitors) would you believe us? There is also likely a drone delivery company out there in absolutely stealth mode like how Huawei came into the phone market in 2010 only selling 3 Mil Units that year growing to sell 200 Mill in 2018. Source.
We suspect a lot of players will come and go in the drone delivery industry similar to the phone market. For example, did you know Siemens used to manufacture phones? That's right from 2000-2005, they sold 212 Mil units. Source. Not that impressive considering that Samsung sells more than that in 1 year.
We do suspect a lot more drone delivery companies to come out of China in the coming years. Similar to the smartphone boom, which created Chinese companies like Oppo (2016) and Vivo (2017) which sold 112 and 100 Million phone units respectively in 2018. Source. A similar reaction will occur in the drone delivery industry. We just saw a license be granted to Antwork Technology having conducted more than 20,000 logistical trials in urban and mountainous areas in Zhejiang and passed risk evaluation and flight tests supervised by aviation regulators. Source. Why China? Same reasons as always, cost of manufacturing is low coupled with increasing quality in both hardware and software. The question will be if these Chinese drone delivery companies would be willing to work with the rest of the drone community. We've recently seen Huawei turn away from Android leaving no major phone manufacturing in China (Oppo and Vivo also developed their own OS) using an external OS. Will Antwork Tech be open to collaborating with the developer community and help set industry standards? Unclear at the moment.
Let's not forget Blackberry. They didn't make our list of companies above because we really couldn't find a resemblance for them in the drone delivery space. Make no mistake, they were a dominant player in the phone industry focusing on business professionals. At the height of their success they had 20% market share in 2009, second only to Nokia. Source. Their failure however to take into account design and user friendliness saw them only sell 130 Units across 2010-2012 before finally focusing on enterprise and outsourcing their security technology. We could very well see this in some of the early stage drone delivery companies however it's too difficult to pin point to a specific provider at this stage.
We hope this matching of drone delivery companies to phone manufactures helps give some context to newcomers who are interested in this space. To keep up with our blog, please feel free to subscribe or even reach out to us.
We looking forward to bumping into you at an upcoming drone event.