Apple Inc. is testing self-driving cars and exploring augmented reality. Recent hires suggest the company is now also looking to the skies.
The tech giant is getting involved in launching satellites that would beam down broadband Internet access. Recently, Apple poached two Google satellite executives to form a new hardware team within the company. John Fenwick led Google’s spacecraft operations and Michael Trela was head of satellite engineering.
Google on the other hand has tempered its own broadband plans as of late. In 2015, the company was simultaneously laying high-speed fiber lines in the United States (Google Fiber), beaming internet access from drones (Project Titan) and via balloon (Project Loon). The company has since restructured the Google Fiber team and canceled Project Titan. It also sold Fenwick and Trela’s Terra Bella to competitor Planet Labs. By all accounts, Project Loon is still moving forward.
Google also planned to invest $1 billion in an internal satellite Internet initiative headed up by Greg Wyler, per Bloomberg, but Wyler exited Google to found satellite communications firm OneWeb Ltd. Google then invested that $1 billion in SpaceX.