Skip to main content

As Parrot's drone sales revenue loses altitude, company announces layoffs

parrot announces layoffs drone division dtdeals bebop 4
Image used with permission by copyright holder
2016 may have been the best year yet for drone sales — but the 2.5 million drones sold last year wasn’t enough to keep Parrot from announcing a cut of a third of the company’s drone division labor force. The French company announced yesterday that it would be laying off about 190 employees in the drone division after holiday sales missed their mark by about 15 percent.

The Washington Post says 2016 was a record year for drone sales, with about half, or nearly 1.2 million, of those sales coming during the holidays. But the growing market has been accompanied by falling prices and increased competition, and Parrot fell short of its goals to the tune of over $15 million in the fourth quarter.

The company’s drone division accounted for about 63 million dollars, with 11.6 million attributable to commercial drones and the remainder to consumer models.

While those numbers are only for the last quarter of the year, the company says the pattern shows that current market performance “would be insufficient to deliver profitable growth for this business over the medium and long term.”

To ensure long-term profitability, Parrot is adjusting its strategy. The company’s plan includes a reduction in the overall number of products while capitalizing on the expertise the company has developed for commercially-oriented quadcopters. About 290 staff members will be laid off out of the company’s 840 employees who are focused on drones. The company says 150 of those reductions will be from Parrot’s France-based locations with the rest being carried out in other nations.

While drones continue to soar in popularity, Parrot is likely having trouble competing with the Chinese manufacturer DJI. Since DJI owns all the factories it uses for production, as Recode points out, the company is able to sell its drones at a lower price. That edge was also what caused 3D Robotics to focus solely on drone software and stop manufacturing drones after DJI dropped its prices.

While commercial drones made up a smaller portion of Parrot’s sales in the fourth quarter, the company plans to focus on that market, where growth in applications such as aerial inspections have accelerated.

Editors' Recommendations

Hillary K. Grigonis
Hillary never planned on becoming a photographer—and then she was handed a camera at her first writing job and she's been…
Parrot retires its mini-drones to focus on its Anafi quadcopter
Parrot Mambo

Competitively priced mini-drones such as Parrot’s Swing and Mambo devices offer budget-conscious buyers an easy way to dip their toes into the world of quadcopters before deciding whether to move on to a pricier, more sophisticated machine such as one of DJI’s Mavic drones.

But the French company confirmed to Digital Trends this week that it's retiring its mini-drones to focus instead on developing its more advanced Anafi quadcopter for the commercial and consumer markets.

Read more
The best drones under $100
Fly your local skies on a budget with these drones under $100
best drones under 100 ryze tello featured

Drone flying is a popular hobby, even despite government regulation and angry neighbors outright shooting at drones, but newcomers might find it daunting to get started, given how expensive drones can be. Thankfully, you don’t need to drop $2000 on a drone with all the bells and whistles; you don’t even need to spend $200. There are some great, functional drones available at $100 or less, and while they may not be the flashiest or the most powerful, they’ll give you a lot of the features you would want in a premium drone.

Further reading

Read more
Parrot to build small surveillance drones for U.S. soldiers on the battlefield
parrot anafi drone in air

French dronemaker Parrot has spent much of its existence in the shadow of DJI, the successful Chinese maker of a range of popular quadcopters that include the Mavic range, alongside more advanced offerings such as the Inspire 2.

The Paris-based company has been given a boost, however, after being selected by the United States Department of Defense as one of six companies to develop small, short-range reconnaissance aircraft for use by soldiers on the battlefield. The others are Skydio, Altavian, Teal Drones, Vantage Robotics, and Lumenier, all of which are based in the U.S.

Read more