Drone Sales Are Soaring Despite New Federal Regulations
Business + Economy

Drone Sales Are Soaring Despite New Federal Regulations


A new federal registration rule hasn’t grounded skyrocketing drone sales.

Retail sales of the unmanned aircraft more than tripled to $200 million in April year over year, according to a new report from NPD Group.

The Federal Aviation Administration’s registration rule in December did nothing to slow sales. During the 2015 holidays, the number of drone sales jumped 445 percent compared to 2014. In December alone, sales were up 273 percent.

“The drone category is continuing to take shape as new products and features such as 4K cameras, Bluetooth and built-in GPS, reveal an expanding range of use cases,” said Ben Arnold, executive director, industry analyst for NPD Group, in a statement. “The market is maturing in that respect.”

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The newest entrant into the market is one of China’s biggest smartphone makers, Xiaomi, which unveiled on Wednesday a quadcopter with a very attractive price tag. Xiaomi introduced two versions of its Mi Drone, one with a 4K-resolution camera for about $455 and one with a 1080p camera for about $380. The former will be available in late July, while the latter will be crowdfunded through the company’s app, beginning Thursday.

It joins the ranks of DJI, Parrot, Protocol, Yuneec and 3D Robotics, the top five drone sellers in the U.S. by dollar share, according to NPD.

Drones with 4K cameras made up a third of dollar sales, according to NPD, while those with built-in GPS accounted for 64 percent. The average drone sold for more than $550 in April.

Drone racing has helped popularize the unmanned flyer. In March, the World Drone Prix in Dubai was the first million dollar race, with the winning team taking home $250,000. Last month, the International Drone Racing Association inked a distribution deal with ESPN. The first event to be streamed and televised is the 2016 U.S. National Drone Racing Championships in August.