Commentary – No More Dumb Pipes: Verizon Moves into Commerci…

Guest Commentary by Darr Gerscovich, former SVP Marketing at DroneDeploy

In case you missed it, Verizon announcement yesterday that it was buying Skyward, a drone operations administration software program firm.  Major information for my part.  After the third individual requested for my opinion, I made a decision to draft this submit as a primer.  Note – these are my impartial ideas.  Let’s begin with the fundamentals…

What Does Skyward Do?

Skyward permits companies to have a single workflow involving folks, tasks (e.g., monitoring a development website) and drones. Said in another way, Skyward helps companies decrease the dangers of utilizing business drones by following established processes and rules.  Check out their overview video for a extra eloquent and “approved” clarification.

Why Does Verizon Care?

Commercial drones pose an enormous problem and alternative for carriers.  Today, cameras are the first sensor on drones.  New sensors will seem on drones over time with the arrival of smaller sensors, nevertheless I imagine that cameras will probably be a part of the sensor payload for almost all of the market.  Today’s drones already carry cameras able to taking very prime quality imagery (suppose 20MB images and 4K video), and so they’re getting higher on a regular basis.  So what’s the problem for carriers?

Drones Transmit Massive Amounts of Data

Here’s a fast again of the envelope calculation to spotlight the drone information problem… relying on altitude, a drone will seize between three and 6 photos per acre.  Therefore, to seize a 100 acre agriculture subject requires 300 to 600 photos, respectively.  At 4MB per image that’s 1.2GB to 2.4GB of knowledge that should get uploaded to the cloud for processing.  Think about it.  Over a gigabyte of nonetheless picture information is uploaded for only one business drone flight!  It’s no surprise that restricted provider bandwidth is a large bottleneck at present for business drones.  To make issues worse, the market is transferring in direction of actual time processing of knowledge streamed immediately from the drone (versus plugging the drone’s SD card into a pc and importing the info from the workplace).

So problem #1 is MASSIVE quantities of knowledge, however transmitting information presents a income alternative for the carriers.  And that’s precisely what Verizon made a play for again in October of 2016 by saying drone information plans beginning at $25/month for 1GB as much as $80/month for 10GB.  It made waves within the trade, however sadly was a non-starter throughout the business drone area.  Why?  Based on our fast calculation above, Verizon’s drone information plans fell method in need of what’s wanted.  But as a marketer, I respect PR play after I see one. 🙂

Moving Beyond Dumb Pipes

Similar to Verizon’s large strikes into content material and promoting by way of the AOL acquisition and the pending Yahoo acquisition, it’s now seeking to seize extra of the worth-chain in a brand new and exploring IoT class, business drones.  Skyward is Verizon’s entree into the area and positions it to go after the drone enterprise market with its just lately introduced Airborne LTE Operations initiative, “a new service to simplify certification and connectivity of wireless drones.”

As Mike Lanman, senior vp – Enterprise Products and IoT at Verizon mentioned: “This acquisition is a natural progression of our core focus on operating in innovative, high-growth markets, leveraging our network, scale, fleet management, device management, data analytics and security enablement capabilities and services to simplify the drone industry and help support the adoption of IoT.”

Translation, we don’t wish to be relegated to only the plumbing.

Who Wins and Who Loses?

I view Verizon’s transfer as constructive for everybody, and right here’s why:


They’ve constructed a stable product that’s addressing an actual want within the market.  By becoming a member of Verizon, an early strategic investor of their firm, they achieve super sources and at the moment are ready to shift into excessive gear.  They’re ones to observe!  Congrats crew!


They immediately achieve a business drone providing and the flexibility to ship distinctive bundles to enterprises (telco infrastructure + information plan + drone operations software program).  I believe over time they are going to proceed to accumulate different drone corporations to construct out a extra strong providing.  Intel started in a similar way and now brings collectively their chips with belongings from their drone-related acquisitions ( from Ascending Technologies and flight planning software program from MAVinci).  If you’re concerned with nice perception into how Intel thinks about business drones try this text.

Drone Software Players

The customary-challenge reply of “this validates our space” is true, however there’s extra to it.  Verizon’s rivals will probably really feel aggressive pressures to leap into the area, and I’d guess that the majority will pursue acquisitions versus constructing it themselves.  This is especially excellent news for the drone software program corporations which are slowing down and discovering a tougher fundraising local weather.  These corporations, that weren’t going to make it to IPO, could now have one other shot at a worthwhile exit.

Drone Hardware Players

Sadly, no change right here.  Competing with a dominant DJI has proved an excessive amount of and with each passing days extra of those corporations are pivoting to the software program area.

What’s Next?

The business drone area is rising tremendously, nevertheless it’s nonetheless nascent.  I’m assured that the class goes to be so big that regardless of the expansion, in three years we’ll nonetheless be saying it’s nonetheless nascent.  In different phrases, it’s nonetheless very early and we’re going to see much more gamers (large and small) enter the area, and lots of shakeout, earlier than all is claimed and completed.

Darr Gerscovich is a marketing consultant for drone and advertising and marketing know-how corporations.  As the previous SVP of Marketing at DroneDeploy he moved the model from out of the shadows and established it as a worldwide chief. Darr is a B2B enterprise marketer with 15+ years in information & insights at giant multi-nationals (LinkedIn, Yahoo, Shell) and several other SaaS, excessive-development startups.

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