Future tech

Drone maker DJI’s new Hong Kong store offers customers the chance to fly before buying

10,000 sq ft site opens this weekend at 535 Mall on Jaffe Road

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 22 September, 2016, 2:41pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 22 September, 2016, 10:53pm

DJI, the world’s biggest maker of remote controlled drones, opens its first retail store in Hong Kong this weekend in the heart of Causeway Bay to give up-and-coming drone pilots hands-on experience of flying the machines.

The 10,000 square foot site – over three storeys in the newly opened 535 Mall on Jaffe Road – marks a return to its roots by Da-Jiang Innovations Science & Technology Co, the formal name of DJI.

Its founder Frank Wang, an alumnus of Hong Kong University of Science & Technology, established the company in Shenzhen a decade ago.

It’s the company’s third Asia store, after opening outlets in Shenzhen, and Seoul over the past 10 months.

Unlike customers in Europe and the US, the largest markets for DJI, Asian pilots haven’t had the opportunity yet to actually get their hands on flying one of its drone before buying it.

“There’s a lot of growth potential in Asia and having a larger retail footprint will help expand that,” said Michael Perry, DJI’s director of strategic partnerships.

The company’s top-of-the-line drone is the Phantom 4, which retails for HK$9,299.

“Phantom 4 may not be an impulse buy, but what we’ve found is that a lot of people are very interested, they spend a lot of time researching but the key turning point in their decision is seeing their technology themselves,” Perry said.

Research firm Teal Group predicts global sales of civilian drones will soar to US$10.9 billion by 2025, up from US$2.6 billion for this year.

The ground floor of the new DJI shop displays the firm’s range starting from the hand held Osmo gimbals, which start at HK$2,299, right up to up to the Phantom 4 and Inspire drone models, as well as a large cage for trying out the aerial vehicles.

DJI’s industrial series of drones and gimbals, including the Matrice 600, designed for professional aerial photography or applications such as surveying, are housed on the first floor alongside a gallery of images taken by DJI users. On the third floor are offices, technical support and space for workshops or seminars.

Perry said there is huge global potential for the use of drones, adding that its community of users are constantly coming up with new ideas on how the devices can be improved, the latest example being a new sensor for use in warehouses to check inventory.

“Anywhere that data collection or delivery is too time intensive, too costly, too dangerous, that’s where a drone can play a pretty critical role,” he said.

DJI launched its first drone for the agriculture market last year. The DJI Agras MG-1 has eight rotors and can carry more than 10 kilograms of liquid for crop spraying, with the ability to spray up to four hectares an hour.

Perry said the company’s technological strength and control systems such as one that prevents collision gives it an edge over competitors, including Xiaomi’s Mi Drone, and GoPro’s Karma.

GoPro, which makes action cameras, this week launched the Karma, a foldable model, for HK$6,300. Xiaomi’s Mi Drones sell for less than HK$3,550, and are aimed at competing with DJI’s Phantom 3 model.