The idea was to provide internet access to areas that are remote or have poor infrastructure using balloons that sail at about 65,000 feet of altitude. But Loon is not the first of similar projects to be axed - in February 2020 Alphabet shut down Makani, which used high-tech kites to tap into wind energy for electricity. The project launched in 2013 and graduated from X in 2018 and had its own CEO and outside funding.
"The communities in areas too hard or remote to reach, or the areas where delivering service with existing technologies is just too expensive for everyday people".
Google's parent company, Alphabet, announced it's shutting down its internet providing giant balloon company, Loon.
Alphabet executive Astro Teller said in a separate blog post that despite Loon's "groundbreaking technical achievements" over the past nine years, "the road to commercial viability has proven much longer and riskier than hoped". "We want to share what we've learned and help creative innovators find each other-whether they live amidst the telcos, mobile network operators, city and country governments, NGOs, or technology companies".
One of Loon's balloons.
"While this isn't the outcome I envisioned for Loon when I joined four years ago, I continue to be immensely proud of the accomplishments of the entire Loon team and hope that our efforts will live on in ways that we can't yet imagine", said Westgarth.
Since 2019, Loon has been operating a pilot service in Kenya and that will end on March 1 as it works to bring down the balloons that are still operating.
As Loon's service comes to a halt, the firm pledged $10M to support non-profits and businesses focussed on connectivity, Internet, entrepreneurship and education in Kenya, where it recently started a pilot project.
Project Loon started as one of Alphabet's moonshot projects at its experimental division Google X (which became "X"), home to other outside-the-box ideas like Google Glass, self-driving vehicle startup Waymo, and drone delivery firm Wing.
The Google representative thanked Kenya for providing the opportunity to offer its innovation and internet connectivity through the Loon project.