Google bets on balloons
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Google bets on balloons

Alphabet, parent company of Google, inherited the latter’s interest in wild and wonderful technology. In fact, Alphabet was created primarily so that Google wouldn’t have to deal with the kind of crazy innovation upon which it built its business – it functions better, and more transparently, as a seller of digital advertising space. But this means Alphabet is left reaching for the stars – or at least, the moon; hence the term ‘moonshot’ to describe its more… unconventional goals. One of those goals is this: to deliver a high quality internet service to the most remote parts of the globe.

Now this may not sound like a ‘crazy’ project, but when you consider what it really means on a broad scale – being able to connect to the internet pretty much wherever you are; at sea, mountain climbing, in the jungle – it’s pretty apparent that Alphabet is being ambitious. And, as is often the case, some of the avenues by which it hoped to accomplish the ambitious proved to be dead ends.

One approach to accomplishing this ‘moonshot’ project was through the use of a solar powered drone program. Google acquired the solar powered drone approach when it bought Titan Aerospace in 2014. But now, it’s retiring that project.

Jacquelyn Miller, a representative for ‘X’ (the division of Alphabet that deals with ‘moonshot’ projects), said:

"The team from Titan was brought into X in late 2015. We ended our exploration of high altitude UAVs for internet access shortly after. By comparison, at this stage the economics and technical feasibility of Project Loon present a much more promising way to connect rural and remote parts of the world. Many people from the Titan team are now using their expertise as part of other high flying projects at X, including Loon and Project Wing."

Above, Miller describes ‘Project Loon’ – a second approach to the problem that involves using balloons instead. And investors should note: the reason Alphabet is closing down Titan is because Loon looks better… how close are Alphabet to delivering the kind of worldwide internet connectivity that Facebook and others have dreamt of providing? 

Dominion holds Alphabet in its Global Trends Managed Fund. 

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