Alphabet is closing Loon, its internet balloon company
Google's parent company Alphabet has announced that they will be closing Loon because the project has been difficult to commercialize.
Alphabet decided to stop investing in Loon, the project that used balloons to provide Internet services to areas that lacked network infrastructure. The company said it was not a long-term sustainable business.
One of Google X's best-known projects, Loon, which used balloons to deliver Internet services to places that lacked existing network infrastructure, will be shut down. Google's parent company Alphabet has announced that they will be closing Loon because the project has been difficult to commercialize.
Project Loon was officially announced in 2013 as part of Google X and followed the Moonshot Factory to Alphabet before "graduating" in July 2018. Loon has partnered with a handful of operators worldwide since then and has proven quite helpful to provide emergency services. Internet access after natural disasters left places devastated.
As reported by Wired, Alphabet accepted a call not to invest more in Loon. The official blog post states that the main problem is not being able to cut costs enough "to build a long-term sustainable business."
"We talk a lot about connecting the next billion users, but the reality is Loon has been chasing the hardest problem of all in connectivity — the last billion users: The communities in areas too difficult or remote to reach, or the areas where delivering service with existing technologies is just too expensive for everyday people. While we've found several willing partners along the way, we haven't found a way to get the costs low enough to build a long-term, sustainable business. Developing radical new technology is inherently risky, but that doesn't make breaking this news any easier. Today, I'm sad to share that Loon will be winding down," wrote Alastair Westgarth.
Google X boss Astro Teller, who also chairs Loon's board, was the one who recommended that Alphabet no longer fund him. However, Teller called the project a "successful experiment" but not a viable business as "nobody wanted to take over."
The Wired writes, "Loon was a success, he (Teller) says because once it was clear that it would never become a viable business, or solve internet connectivity, he called it quits."
Since 2019, in Kenya, Loon has been operating a pilot service and will end on March 1 as it works to shoot down the balloons that are still in operation.
Teller said, "We wanted Loon to be a beautiful solution to a seemingly unsolvable problem."