DJI is a drone company founded in 2006 by Frank Wang, who dreamed of having a bird’s-eye view of the world. Born in Shenzhen, the first special economic zone of China, DJI constructed its brand image as an innovation leader by developing the Phantom, the world’s first ready-made drone. After that, the age of consumer drones took off with the release of the Mavic, a compact drone with foldable wings. Regarded as the “Apple of the drone industry,” DJI continues to spearhead the global drone market.

Welcome to the 71st edition of B.

Toward the end of each year, I often find myself reciting the digits of the upcoming year in my head. With less than two months left of 2018, I can’t help but get hung up on the surreal sound of the number 2019 every time I say it out loud. It’s probably because this bizarrely futuristic number—a year depicted in the movies and shows as the “future” when I was a child— is now staring right at me from my desk calendar. After all, the “future” in the 1982 film Blade Runner was the year 2019 and the “future” visited by Marty in the 1989 film Back to the Future Part II was three years ago in 2015. As someone who has made it to this distant future, I’ve come to realize that there are many forces trying to push forward and still many fighting to maintain the existing order. The disparity between the future scenes in those movies and the reality of today may be due to technological limitations or the lack of technological commercialization, but it could also be that radical ideas not speaking to the emotional needs of humans have naturally fallen to the wayside. Through trends and progressions over time, we’ve experienced that sometimes, leading the way too fast is equally as concerning as falling too far behind.

In that sense, the brand of this month, DJI, is more than qualified as a brand offering “a product of the future.” Since its foundation in 2006 in Shenzhen, China, DJI has taken over 70 percent of the drone market share, surpassing all competition to reach the top. But what’s really remarkable is the fact that their growth and development is firmly based on their interaction with the end users. Drones have infinite scalability in terms of technical definition, functional spectrum, and utility value. Originally developed for military purposes, drones are now used in various fields: industrial drones for agriculture and surveying, professional drones for media and film, and recreational drones for personal entertainment. DJI is lauded particularly for successfully transforming drones into popular products that users can relate to as a hobby, much like audio systems or cameras. Founder Frank Wang is a graduate of Hong Kong University of Science and Technology who persistently pursued research on automatic flight control systems to eventually turn DJI into a company with original drone technology and patents. The company is obviously rooted in technology, and they’re still very much devoted to R&D, but they have also adopted flexibility as a way to channel that intensity. As one employee said in a media interview, “DJI has always thought up ways to make it easier for more people to approach and use drones.”

“Easy” has become a great virtue in our time. We see more and more cases where the down-to-earth guy next door steals the limelight over the behind-the-scenes genius, where a street brand that’s not afraid to make fun of itself draws more attention than an exclusive luxury brand. DJI seems to have cleverly mastered the art of taking center stage. Read through the interviews of DJI users in this issue, and you’ll find that everyone from novice to expert expresses their satisfaction about the easy operation, simple structure, and reasonable price of DJI products. DJI’s Phantom, launched in 2013, was the first out-of-the-box drone that let users skip the assembly process entirely and start piloting right away. The Mavic, a foldable drone, and the Spark, a palm-sized mini drone, which were successively released after the Phantom, won over the public, penetrating their way into the realm of everyday life. Another one of DJI’s key strategies was design: the neat appearances of the drones appealed to even the most non-tech-savvy people with little to no understanding of drone mechanics.

DJI’s success can be explained by the key concept of “communication technique.” The reason brands like Apple, Marvel, and Nike infallably lead the pack is because they have a brand language everyone can easily understand. They are able to take serious issues like race relations or the origin of mankind and create them into intriguing visuals, or take professional sports gear and technology and turn them into a form of cultural commentary or entertainment. Looking at their products, we see that DJI has taken a similar path as well.

Eunsung Park
Content & Editorial Director

Intro


Editor’s Letter


Headlines

Major media reports highlighting the significance of drones


Into the Market

DJI’s flagship stores built as a means to popularize new technology


In the Manual

A beginner’s guide to drone terminology and regulations


Opinion

Roland Siegwart, professor of autonomous systems at ETH Zürich


Chronicle

The world’s first commercial drone and its design evolution


Beginning

A lineup of recreational drones designed for user convenience


Software

DJI’s goals seen through the specialized software in each drone model


Opinion

Sangrae Jo, CEO of the online startup media platform Platum


Users

People utilizing DJI products in their own individual ways


Brand to Brand

Other tech products owned by DJI drone users


Opinion

Jaehwan Jeong, professional aerial cinematography director


Advanced

A lineup of professional drones designed to capture the most immaculate images


Industry

DJI’s strong suits as testified by people in the video industry


Extension

Practical uses of drones in various fields


Brand Story

DJI’s growth as the “Apple of the drone industry”


Insiders

Paul Pan, Product Manager at 118 DJI, and Natasha Gray, Senior Communication Manager for Enterprise at DJI


Made in Shenzhen

How the development plan for Shenzhen has motivated the growth of Chinese enterprises


Partnerships

DJI creates a new industrial ecosystem through partnerships


In the Media

Scenes from movies, television, and commercials filmed using drones


Figures

The growth of DJI and the global drone industry in numbers


References

Outro

PUBLICATION RIGHT

Publisher  Suyong Joh
Executive Director Myungsoo Kim
Content & Editorial Director Eunsung Park
Senior Editor Heather Yoo
Lead Editors Jaewoo Seo
Editors Chanyong Park, Narae Kim, Jean Kim, Hyun Son, Sol Lyu
Photographer Miyeon Yoon
Assistant Editor Dongeun Han
Managing & Editing (English Edition) Jean Kim
Translation (English Edition) J Seoul Selection
Correspondents  Mihye Nam (Tokyo), Lena Shin (LA), Alex Seo (London), Sanghyeok Lee (Berlin), Hyeseon Jeong (Paris)
Art Direction & Design Gyeongtak Kang
Assistant Design Yoonjung Jang
Marketing Hyunjoo Kim
Sales & Distribution Sanghoon Kim, Suyeon Kim
Publishing  JOH

REFERENCES

Above the World
Livin' the Drone Life: An Insider’s Guide to Flying Drones for Fun and Profit
Why Drones Now
City of the Future, Shenzhen
DJI Studio
Shenzhen: The Silicon Valley of Hardware
International Journal of Unmanned Systems Engineering
Rotor Drone Magazine