Xiaomi launched a low-priced drone Wednesday to compete with market leader DJI Technology. The 4K version sells for 2,999 yuan (about $460), while the 1080P model costs 2,499 yuan ($380). Xiaomi says that the 1080p Mi Drone will be crowdfunded from May 26 while the 4K version will be available for testing in an open beta program in late July.
“While making good-quality products, the price point has to be competitive as well,” Xiaomi marketing director Li Zhuoqi told Bloomberg. “We have set a very thin margin for drones, but the product line is set to be profitable.”
Xiaomi’s Mi Drone is a quadcopter with a 360-degree 4K camera attached and a remote control that uses a Mi smartphone as its viewfinder. One of the strengths of the Mi Drone is its “modularity and serviceability,” according to The Verge, which noted that the device’s camera module and rotors are detachable. This new drone has an easily replaceable 5,100mAh battery as well.
Xiaomi is joining the crowd of upstarts in the drone market, hoping to take share from Shenzhen-based DJI, the leading seller of consumer devices. DJI’s 4K-capable Phantom 3 retails for US$799. Drones are still largely novelty items, with sales expected to reach almost 4 million this year and forecast to rise to 16 million by 2020.
Newer players are targeting the lower-tiered part of the market, such as Syma Toys Co Ltd and Shenzhen Hubsan Intelligent Co Ltd. Xiaomi reckons that it can capture a part of the consumer drone market that experts predict will reach US$4.19 billion by 2024.