Google Balloon Goes Bust


Google Balloon Goes Bust

The idea was to bring high-speed internet access to the more remote parts of the world through the use of balloons

Google Loon Internet Balloon (promo pic)

Google parent company Alphabet is shuttering its Loon internet balloon company. The news comes as Google threatens to pull out of Australia over copyright conflicts.

In a blog post made on Thursday Loon CEO Alastair Westgarth said “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.”

The idea was to bring high-speed internet access to the more remote parts of the world through the use of balloons flying at a height of 65,000 feet. To put that into context, the balloons would fly about twice as high as commercial jet liners. But now Alphabet says that it was not able to find a sustainable business model or partners for the venture.

Loon boasted that it pioneers the commercial application of cutting-edge, stratospheric technologies, making it possible to connect “billions of people and things in places no one thought possible.”

As Loon explained, “If we want to connect more people, places and things, we need something more. We need a third layer to the connectivity ecosystem. That’s where Loon comes in: we’re building a new layer of connectivity technology in the stratosphere to connect regions once thought of as unservable.”

Meanwhile, Google is threatening to such down searches in Australia if that country moves forward with plans to implement a new policy that would force it to pay copyright fees for using content from news media companies. Google is joined by fellow behemoth Facebook in this struggle.

The idea here is to require companies to pay a fee just for posting links to news content sites. Companies like Google counter that the other businesses benefit from such links as they drive traffic to their sites. And only the headline or a blurb can be seen. News media outlets maintain that this keeps people from visiting their sites just to see the latest headlines.

The Guardian reports that 19 million people in Australia make regular Google searches and 17 million use Facebook.

Mel Silva, Google Australia’s managing director, told an Australian Senate committee, “The principle of unrestricted linking between websites is fundamental to search and coupled with the unmanageable financial and operational risk is this version of the code were to become law, it would give us no real choice but to stop making Google Search available in Australia.”

But would Google actually follow through on such a threat? Even if it needed to redo its news feeds, the company surely generates a majority of its revenue in any country through its general searches.

The good news for Google is that it has reached an agreement to compensate news outlets in France for the use of their material. The NY Post reports that Google the French publisher’s lobby have cut a deal whereby the company would arrange individual licensing agreements for French publications

The new deal is said to provide a way for the publishers to generate revenues from Google’s use of their content.