Giving up gracefully | Breakthrough Funding

Friday, June 29, 2018

Giving up gracefully

Sometimes you just have to know when you’re beaten

For four years, Facebook has been trying to send its business to new heights by developing drones that can beam down internet connectivity to anywhere on the globe.

With Project Aquila, Facebook hoped to beat rivals like Google to providing wireless internet access for developing parts of the world. There was certainly plenty of investment in the idea; the test craft had the same wingspan as a Boeing 737. Using solar power for daytime flights and battery power at night, the craft managed a maximum of 90 minutes in the air during test flights.

Unfortunately, this wasn’t making much headway in the race to provide airborne internet connectivity. Google’s parent company Alphabet had put its experimental arm, X, to work on Project Loon, which aimed to achieve the same result but with high altitude balloons instead of drones. The company claims to have reached a continuous flight time of almost 190 days and provided internet access to stricken Puerto Rico after a hurricane wreaked havoc on the country last year.

Faced with such strong performances from rivals, Facebook has finally decided to take the hint and give up on its own attempt to conquer the skies. Citing the impressive technology being developed by leading firms in the aerospace industry, Facebook announced its intention to stop developing its own hardware and partner with companies like Airbus instead.

Not everyone is a fan of Facebook, so some people might be rubbing their hands in glee at this very public failure. But isn’t the mark of a true innovator knowing when to follow a dream and when to concede defeat? Facebook hasn’t dropped its ambition, it’s simply decided to collaborate with people better placed to develop that side of the technology. So, we could still see that famous logo up in the stratosphere yet!

Are you working on tech that improves, or makes better use of, wireless internet connectivity? Give us a call on 0800 772 0800, we’d love to hear about it.

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