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Holiday drone sales preview 2015 sales demand

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moneyBy Robert Kalesse
Special to Delaware Business Times

Drones were a big seller this holiday season for all ages, from national electronics stores like Radio Shack to local purveyors like Skygear Solutions, located on Kirkwood Highway.

Skygear saw December sales of ready-to-fly drones increase nearly threefold relative to the preceding six months’ numbers.

“The most popular were the DJI Phantom 2, at around $500 to $1,200, and a much smaller drone called the Hubsan X4 at $39.99,” said Skygear CEO Daniel Herbert. “Most were out-of-the-box, ready-to-fly models and about half of those were capable of carrying a high quality camera and video transmission gear.”

Numerous calls to Radio Shack’s corporate communications department received no response, however, a source at one location told Delaware Business Times that the RC Surveyor Drones sold out almost immediately on Black Friday.

“We sold the Surveyors, which are usually around $60, for $24.99 on Black Friday, and they were gone within hours,” he said. “We also heard that most stores from New Jersey and Philly sold out the same day, so they were definitely a big hit over the holidays.”

Though Radio Shack did not have any drones in stock at press time, Herbert is sure he’ll get calls and purchases as the new year progresses. “It is our opinion that the individuals who are already entrenched within the industry do most of their purchasing after the holidays with “˜Christmas money,'” Herbert said.

Herbert did recommend that all drone purchasers and novice operators consult the Federal Aviation Administration’s educational website, www.knowbeforeyoufly.org, before getting started, and to become very familiar with the hardware, battery power and navigation capabilities before taking drones to the air.

Logan Derrickson, of Rehoboth Beach, did read the rules before taking to the air. The 12-year-old got a Parrot AR Drone 2.0 from his uncle Bryan as a Christmas present. He received the drone on Dec. 23 and a new Labrador Retriever on Jan. 6, and even the drone is holding its own against the classic boy-and-his-puppy relationship.

“He was obsessed with the thing the entire week he was off from school, in part because he wanted to shoot some aerial videos of the hotel,” the boy’s father, Spencer Derrickson, said. The Derrickson family owns a string of hotels and restaurants in Rehoboth Beach and Dewey Beach, including the Heritage Inn & Suites on Coastal Highway.

“He wanted one of the $1,000 drones for Christmas, but I told him Santa Claus doesn’t have that kind of money,” Derrickson said, laughing. “His uncle was good enough to buy him one that’s pretty close to what he wanted.”

The Parrot AR Drone 2.0 retails online at sites like Amazon and Best Buy for $299.99, is a “quadricopter model,” with four plastic propellers, and features on-board pressure sensors, an autopilot feature and 720p high-definition camera.

“Between the new dog and a drone, it’s been a pretty nice Christmas for Logan,” Derrickson said. “But the two definitely compete for his attention on
a daily basis.” 

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