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DJI constantly pushing boundaries to make technology more accessible


Raissa Mendes, DJI’s Regional Manager for the Middle East & Africa, speaks to Anita Joseph about DJI-the company’s evolution and growth, its market strategy and positioning, unique range of products, and the exciting future ahead.

Tell us DJI’s growth story? Where does it stand today?
DJI began about 15 years ago by focusing on RC helicopters and trying to stabilize it for longer periods in the air. Then came the Phantom Drone which proved to be a game changer in many ways. We then developed the technology further, which led us to eventually master the gimbal technology. This led us to explore technology for hand-held devices and to the growth we have today. As we developed, we aimed to democratize technology and make it more accessible to the public. Today, DJI is looking for ways to explore product dynamics and leverage the power of technology to make it attractive and easy. Today, our products are known for their power, portability, ease of use and cutting-edge features. Apart from the Osmo series, we also have the RONIN series, which comprise handheld gimbals targeting filmmakers and professionals. We also have another vertical, called enterprise solutions, which consist of aerial platforms for diverse sectors such as telecom, public security, agriculture, construction, and many more.

At the end of July this year, we launched the Robot Master S1, a robotic car that one can build oneself, code, and use for a variety of purposes like shooting and forming water bubbles. The aim of this car is to incentivize people of all ages to develop an interest for technology, specifically coding and robotics. This is a fun and creative aspect of technology, and we at DJI hope to challenge the existing paradigms of technology and promote its lighter sides as well.

Over the years, we have changed our focus from being a drone-focused company to a robotics company, and we are fully equipped to take on any challenges that may arise.

How would you describe the Middle East region as far as technology adoption is concerned?
The Middle East region, especially the UAE, has proven to be very forward thinking, and enthusiastic about new technology and innovation. Everyone in the UAE wants to implement the latest technology and keep up with global trends. For this, they are willing to experiment, try out new things and are becoming increasingly accepting of day-to-day technology uses. Instead of asking ‘how can I use it?” which is the standard response to any new technological device, people here ask “When can I use it?” which shows their eagerness and purchasing power. The younger generation, especially, is very, very keen to stay in tune with whatever is happening on the technology side, globally. So yes, the Middle East is a very exciting market for us.

How is DJI positioned as far as product pricing is concerned?
Like I said earlier, DJI has been focused on the democratization of technology, as in, we aim to make technology reach people in a better way. And pricing is integral to this approach. For us, the UAE is a privileged location, because we have been able to tie up with leading distributors across the country, such as Jumbo, Sharaf DG, Emax and the like, to make our products available everywhere. As a result, our prices are also competitive. Then again, with the advent of new technology, our products have become cheaper as well. For example, when we first launched the DJI Osmo Mobile 1 in 2017, it was priced at USD 299. In 2018, the Osmo Mobile 2 was priced lower, at 129 USD. And now, the Osmo Mobile 3, with a host of improved features, is only USD 119. This just goes to prove DJI’s commitment to accessibility and value, and its focus on innovation. Having said that, let me also say that technology is never cheap. However, it opens up exciting new worlds that you wouldn’t have access to, otherwise.

Like pricing, how has technology impacted your product specifications over the years?
The Osmo Mobile I, when it was launched, could only shoot horizontally. A year later, with the Osmo 2 in 2018, one could shoot horizontally and vertically, catering to social media enthusiasts. The battery life of the latter also improved significantly. The Osmo Mobile 3 came packed with cutting-edge features such as an ergonomic design, foldability and portability, and a 15 degree angle that gives it versatility. It can be used both as a camera and as a gimbal. A simple touch of the button changes mode from horizontal to vertical, and it comes loaded with features such as standby mode, gesture control, slow motion, story mode, time lapse, active track 2.0 (upgraded) and many, more. The USP is that the Osmo Mobile 3 can be used to capture everyday moments beautifully, without any special effects. The entire device can be controlled with one hand, change image re-centering from front to back-what I mean is, see how technology has made all this possible!

How does DJI stay ahead of competition?
Competition is, of course, fierce, when it comes to technology, but DJI has been fortunate enough to develop different product portfolios and focus on every minute aspect of a product-right from its design, to its final use. We also employ the best talent, which in turn helps to create an entire ecosystem around a product that allows the user to enjoy it to the fullest. We are constantly pushing boundaries, and this helps us to stay ahead.

What are your future plans? Where is DJI headed?
DJI is continuously pushing for innovation and our future is a ‘possible’ future. We aim to create products that people need, but aren’t yet aware that they need it. The Middle East is a focus market and we have major expansion plans. Yes, it is a very exciting time for the company. Remember, our products usually have a life of one year, so we’re always coming up with something new. We’re also planning to amplify our verticals, so that we reach out better to our customers.

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