It feels like an overreaction to speculate on 15 seconds and a little over 200 words, but when those words contain “new drone” and the video has the Sony logo in it, an overreaction can be justified since it could change the drone market as we know it.
That uncertainty is driven by the fact that while Sony has launched a new project for drones in the field of AI robotics, the information they’ve released raises more questions than answers. Sony’s carefully worded statement about their new Airpeak drone talks about a recognition of the kind of efficiencies that drones have enabled in the industrial sector, but it also says their drone will “support the creativity of video creators”, which makes it a fit for consumers. A drone that could be used to facilitate the creation of YouTube content just as easily as it can be used to enable high-accuracy mapping speaks to a plan to create an all-purpose drone (or drones) that could compete with DJI. As others have noted, doing so is a tall order.
Both 3DR and GoPro attempted to provide these kinds of alternatives, but both failed to create viable options, for very different reasons. While the current battle over what it means for a drone to be “made in America” could majorly impact DJI’s market dominance, the cost and reliability of their products is what has driven that dominance. Politics and security are compelling users to consider their drone options, but the baseline reliability and cost that DJI has established with their drones have created expectations that any competitor needs to see as their starting place.
Whether the Airpeak is going to be able to address those inherent expectations, much less how it will deal with ever-shifting political and security issues, is pure speculation, the type of which I’ve clearly fallen into. Airpeak could redefine the drone market as we know it, or it could have the same fate as the Solo and Karma. Speculating about either fate, or anything in-between, is just that. But it’s also the point of making an announcement that doesn’t say much beyond telling us to stay tuned for another announcement.
You can do so via the Airpeak site, but the actual launch of the Sony drone project isn’t happening until the spring of 2021. Stay tuned for updates that will very soon give us more answers than questions.