Hi everyone, John McBride here. I wanted to come in and give my thoughts on this whole “DJI ban is coming” and provide a perspective as a guy who has watched this industry for a very long time. I want to discuss the impact that I believe we may not be ready for if we decide to go down this path. I am not a representative of any particular manufacturer I work with. I am the Director of the Droning Company. This is just from a guy who sees the impact of drones and what they've done for the world so far, especially in the United States, including all of our government agencies and how they've been using DJI over the last decade or more.

The DJI Ban Impact on Businesses and Users

Drones have been used by the public to do mapping, to create a number of businesses – both those that fly for money and those that sell to make a little bit of money, as well as those that support to create their own businesses. I even had one for a number of years that is still running and operating today. I'm really worried about what shutting down and getting rid of the largest player in the market right now is going to do to us as an industry in the short term.

American Innovation and Manufacturing

Long-term, I'm all for American innovation, engineering, creation, making, sourcing, manufacturing – all of that. I think that's fantastic. I think we missed the boat when drones initially came out as being used in everyday applications like they are now. There were a lot of manufacturers in those early days who had no idea what they were really making. Intel comes to mind as a large company that put some money into something and really didn't know exactly what to expect out of the market called the . GoPro and dozens of other companies have come and gone because they weren't quite hitting the mark and were able to shift and change like DJI has.

The Need for Investment

We need a little bit more investment from manufacturers and VC money into American companies. They may have seen that there are some issues with return on investment. I've stated this before – I believe that the vested interests and shareholders of these American () are certainly not getting the return that they expected, and if they are, it's not as big as it possibly could have been. As far as DJI is concerned, they have just grown enormously.

The Importance of Supporting American Manufacturers

A lot of the manufacturers that we talk about right now – Skydio, Drones, , Inspire Flight and all these great companies – are great companies, and we do need to put some money into these guys. We need to try to figure out how to overcome all of the things I just said – the manufacturing, the scaling, the engineering, and so on.

The Impact on Public Safety and Recreational Users

There are a lot of people that have benefited from DJI, not just from selling stuff or utilizing and creating businesses, but also our public safety agencies. We already know that they have very limited budgets. They don't get a lot of money or resources without having to basically pull their own teeth out. I've been in the middle of transactions like that, and it sometimes can take upwards of a year to get approved for $1,000 or even $5,000. Right now, the market and current American manufacturers just don't make products that meet the needs of or help those agencies. They need to buy something a little bit less expensive. Recreational users are pretty much the same – they're not going to go out and buy an expensive drone like a Skydio X10 or Brinc Lemur 2 just for fun.

Ocean City Police in New Jersey uses DJI drones to keep people safe. How would they be impacted by a DJI Ban?
Ocean City in use DJI drones to keep people safe.

The Potential Consequences of a DJI Ban

If we remove all of these products out of the market or at least ban them without an action plan – a real plan to not just punish people that are trying to save a buck or two, but for the sake of security (I totally get it) – there's going to be a huge impact if we all of a sudden just say “no more DJI.” Even in some cases, maybe even no more Autel. could kind of fall into this category too – I hope they don't, but they could. Then we're talking about the industry being gone, and the VC guys with all the money invested in this stuff are going to be at each other's throats. We don't want that. It doesn't help the industry whatsoever, and we've already seen American companies be against each other as well.

The Need for Alternatives

We don't want to be caught in the middle of decisions made on the hill. We don't want to be the guys that are stuck here wondering what to do with the drones we currently have, or agencies that won't be able to use them, some of which are 100% DJI. Even though we've come up with some alternatives, we don't have enough to supply the big gaping hole that a DJI Ban will create in the industry, and it will be a big gaping hole. We're not talking about just public safety and government use. We're talking about agriculture, inspection, and all of these different verticals where DJI drones have been used and continue to be used even today. Some will just say “screw it, I'm just gonna keep using my stuff” because there really isn't an American alternative that can do it.

Potential Solutions

My proposed solution has always been that we do need intervention. I don't know where that comes from – whether the city level, the county level, the state level. I live in – can they throw some money at a manufacturer that's here in Utah, like Teal Drones? Can we supply them with some cash to be able to help out? And not just for purchases, but investment. Even though this whole thing is about the government not liking each other, and us being caught in the middle, we have to help out these drone companies. VC money is only going to go so far, and they will run out of it if we don't do something about that pretty soon.

These are the types of proposals that I suggest – that we have investment in the industry. We don't have investment in blocking the industry, we have investment to try to help the industry. It is very hard to get people to understand that DJI is a global manufacturer. They're global – they don't make just for one market. I've been to shows all over the world and they are everywhere. Why are we so hell-bent on hating each other? We need to try to come up with a solution that helps out our user base and our industry. Where are we at?

Moving Forward in the Drone Industry

It's time to move on from throwing sticks and stones and come up with a way that makes actual sense for the gaping hole this will create. We still don't know – today is June 11th. I'm going to post this up today. I'd love to hear your comments, and then maybe tomorrow I will find out a little bit more.

I do have my drone airshow, my Drone Air Show shirt on. These are the things I love being involved in and trying to get people to understand why drones are so useful and why they do what they do. I'm trying to get that public perception to understand that we're not trying to scare the world with them, but there are things that are happening every day that people don't need to know about. Being able to create some level of ROI, whether it's saving a life, saving money, saving time – all of these things that drones have done.

I hope I haven't wasted your time. Again, put a little comment here, let me know what your thoughts are. Remember, don't pick on the problem, let's try to figure out a solution – some proposals. Let's figure out ways to do that. The Drone Advocacy Alliance is a good start. Send out some things to show your concerns. But even if we're out of control of the decisions, what do we do next? And that's what I would like to know – what we would do next as far as the industry is concerned.

Alright, thanks guys. Thank you for hanging out with me.

The above article is a transcript of the video that John McBride posted on LinkedIn recently. We've added it for clarity and brevity. Please go to LinkedIn and watch the video. You can read more about the Countering CCP Drones Act as well as the Drones for First Responders Act right here on DroneXL.


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Haye Kesteloo
Haye Kesteloo

Haye Kesteloo is the Editor in Chief and Founder of DroneXL.co, where he covers all drone-related news, DJI rumors and writes drone reviews, and EVXL.co, for all news related to electric vehicles. He is also a co-host of the PiXL Drone Show on YouTube and other podcast platforms. Haye can be reached at haye @ dronexl.co or @hayekesteloo.

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