Project Loon, Google’s moonshot to cover the earth with internet beaming ballons, is shifting it’s strategy.
The head of Alphabet’s X division, Astro Teller, just had a press conference and posted an update on Project Loon on his blog. He said that the companies original goal to “create rings of balloons sailing around the globe” has been modified to send cluster of ballons to areas of the globe that most need internet access. He said, “Project Loon’s algorithms can now send small teams of balloons to form a cluster over a specific region where people need internet access. This is a shift from our original model for Loon in which we planned to create rings of balloons sailing around the globe, and balloons would take turns moving through a region to provide service.” The new plan has been made possible because of an improvement in navigational technology and machine learning.
He also added that this new strategy will allow Project Loon to ultimately be profitable. “Although our navigation algorithms can get even better, and we need to test them in many other parts of the world, this is a positive sign for Loon’s economic and operational viability. We’ll be able to put together a Loon network over a particular region in weeks not months, and it would be a lot less work to launch and manage. We’ll reduce the number of balloons we need and get greater value out of each one,” Teller said. This is good news because Alphabet has been killing of moonshot projects that have been deemed unprofitable recently. They are shifting their strategy here a bit to make Project Loon a realistic project and a real business for Alphabet. They are no longer in the business of wasting millions of dollars without an ultimate revenue strategy. Providing internet access to remote areas of the world will be profitable because it gets more users online where Google dominates the advertising industry.