Alphabet, the parent company of Google, has announced recently that it’s going to shutdown Loon. On Thursday evening, the firm released a statement mentioning that it failed to find a sustainable business model and partners to continue operating with Loon. In this post, we are going to have a closer look at what is Alphabet’s Loon, why did Alphabet shut down Loon and more.
Loon was considered by many as the next moonshot project of Alphabet at the time of its launch. Therefore, the unexpected announcement got the immediate spotlight. Before we get into the specifics of the post, we need to understand that the project has recently restored the cellular services knocked down by a hurricane in Puerto Rico. It was a challenging task, but the company completed it in a short span of time. So, after such a massive success, the shutdown announcement was indeed a shock.
Alphabet’s Loon basically uses a fleet of balloons to connect high-speed internet to remote parts of the world. The project was in progress for the past nine years before the company decided to close its operations. The announcement comes a year after the Android maker ended the Google station service that was designed to bring internet connectivity to the next billion users. Through station, Google was able to provide high-speed internet services to over 400 railway stations in India. It also planned to extend this model to more nations in the coming years, and the announcement of ending Google stations by the android maker was the first major hit to the project.
Even though Alphabet announced that it is going to shutdown Loon, the move was a surprising one. Last year, Loon successfully secured approval from the government of Kenya to launch the first set of balloons in order to provide commercial internet connectivity services. Alphabet did achieve it pretty quickly and it made everybody believe that things are starting to move in the right direction. On its website, Loon said that its longstanding vision is to serve high-speed internet service to the unserved and underserved communities all around the world.
Another reason for the demise of the project can be attributed to the feasibility issues faced by the company. Alastair Westgarth, chief executive of Loon, said in a blog post that 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 a number of 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. From this statement, we can conclude that the connectivity efforts of Loon were indeed a success, but the cost for bringing the connection is way beyond the scope of the company.
We hope that we’ve given you a clear overview of what is Alphabet’s Loon and why Alphabet shut down Loon. Though the project ended abruptly, the firm said in a separate blog post that it had pledged a fund of $10 million to support nonprofits and businesses focused on connectivity, internet, entrepreneurship and education in Kenya. This ensures that both parties shouldn’t have to lose anything in the end.