1. The drone market in 2021 will grow at 9.4% CAGR and reach US$41.3 billion by 2026
Looking at the big picture, the drone market is currently worth US$26.3 billion, and it will continue to grow. Our market model forecasts a 9.4% CAGR (Compound Annual Growth Rate) at the global level, largely driven by the growth of commercial rather than recreational drones. This is of course lower than last year's estimate, but one reason for this is the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, which we will return to later. The main takeaway is that this is still a relatively stable growth, which will help the drone industry reach US$41.3 billion in revenue by 2026. To put this into context, the global helicopter market is currently valued at US$48.2 billion by Statista; drones will likely reach this number within a decade even though helicopters have been around for much longer.
2. A service-oriented drone market
When the drone market is split into 3 segments (hardware, software and services) it becomes clear that it is a service-oriented market. Roughly 78% of global drone-related revenue is generated through services rather than hardware or software. This segment is set to grow at a rate of 9.6% CAGR and reach US$30.7 billion by 2026. The service segment is mainly driven by business-internal drone activities, i.e. companies that use drone technology for their internal business processes. This share is over 70% within services today and will increase in the future. The second largest share is held by so-called Drone-Service-Providers (DSPs), who offer their services to third parties (which include deliveries, inspections, and a plethora of other applications).
3. Revised industry definitions, yet Energy is still king
This year's market model uses slightly revised industry definitions that paint a more precise picture of the drone market than the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) we already used as a basis for the last drone market reports. Among a few other minor changes, we expanded the number of industries from 15 to 17 by making the sub-industries for police and firefighting and Cargo, Courier Services, Intralogistics and Warehousing stand-alone major categories. The increasing relevance of drone deliveries as well as the implementation of drones into police and firefighting justify their own category for the drone industry.
Categorizations aside, the Energy sector is still and will continue to be the top industry for commercial drones, followed by Construction and Agriculture. Not surprisingly, the fastest-growing drone market in 2021 and beyond will be Cargo, Courier, Intralogistics and Warehousing with a CAGR of 24.3%. This is due to the increased popularity and demand of drone deliveries for both internal (intralogistics and warehousing) as well as external services. Given the headlines about drone deliveries for coronavirus test kits and vaccines, this is one way in which the global pandemic had a positive impact on the drone industry.