Parrot is the only publicly-listed consumer/commercial drone company, so their quarterly and annual financial reports are one of the few places to get accurate and up-to-date numbers on how the drone industry is really doing. They published their Q4 2016 and full-year 2016 financials earlier this week and as always it makes for interesting reading.
- Consumer drones continue to be tough for everyone (aside from DJI) due to rapid price declines and commodification: Parrot's consumer drone sales fell by 46% in 2016.
- Gross margins fell even faster, from 50% in Q4 2015 to 20% in Q4 2016
- As a result, Parrot lost a lot of money in 2016: losses were $138m for the year and $45m in Q4 alone.
- Sales are slowing at their commercial drone subsidiary, Sensefly, too, down 32% to $15m for the year.
- But their partially-owned software subsidiary, Pix4D, had another great year, up 160% to $16m for the year.
Parrot says that it expects 2017 to be better, in part because it will cut costs by eliminating 250 jobs and introduce new products. It will also spin off its older automotive and consumer electronic sides and become a pure-play drone company.
Bottom line: drone hardware is a tough market, consumer drone hardware is even tougher, but the market for commercial drone software, while still young, is looking good.