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.
Tech site Wirecutter learned in recent days that Parrot is ending sales of its mini-drones, with The Verge receiving additional confirmation from the company that it has “stopped the production and development of any drone but the Anafi and its variations.”
Competing with drone giant DJI is tough going for competitors such as Parrot, with the Chinese company enjoying a 74% share of the market, according to the 2018 Drone Market Sector Report by Skylogic Research. The figure sounds even more impressive when you consider that the second-placed company, Yuneec, only has 8% of the market, with Parrot further down the list with a mere 1%.
Parrot has been developing its commercial drone business for a while now, with the advanced Anafi machine garnering it some positive attention since its launch in 2018.
For example, the Anafi almost certainly helped it to win a contract with the U.S. Department of Defense in May 2019 that will see Parrot, along with five other companies, develop small, short-range reconnaissance aircraft for use by soldiers on the battlefield. An $11 million fund will be shared among the selected companies to help them prototype their own individual drone designs aimed at giving soldiers greater situational awareness on the battlefield.
It seems that Parrot will base the design of its Department of Defense machine on that of the Anafi. The quadcopter offers 4K video and 21-megapixel stills, can fly for 25 minutes on a single charge, and has a range of more than 2 miles. It weighs only 0.71 pounds and can fold away into a small case for easy transportation. The company recently released a version sporting a thermal-imaging camera, a feature that would certainly come in useful on the battlefield.
Parrot’s low-price mini-drones may be about to disappear from view, but there are still plenty of alternatives if you’re looking to buy your very first device and want to start with a basic model — check out Digital Trends’ guide showing the best machines costing less than $500, as well as those for less than $100.
Updated on July 22, 2019: The original article stated that Parrot was exiting the consumer drone market. The company has confirmed that this is not the case. Instead it is retiring its mini-drones to focus on the development of the Anafi platform for both the commercial and consumer markets.
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