Apple reportedly working towards building its own armada of satellites

apple satellites technology beam internet to iphone apple headquarters
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A new report from Bloomberg suggests that the iPhone manufacturer is working towards building its own satellite technology. Through this, Apple could directly beam internet services to its ecosystem of devices, be independent of wireless network carriers, improve maps and tracking, and many more. At a time where tech-giants are aggressively working towards a more-or-less self-reliant future, it’s no wonder the most influential of them all is getting in on the action as well. Apple’s investment towards building its own satellites could be one of the company’s most aspiring projects to date.

With about a dozen engineers at its helm, Apple hopes to complete this project within the next 5 years. However, the report also says that the project is in the early stages and could very well be abandoned. But more importantly, the project has personally piqued the interest of Apple’s CEO – Tim Cook, who has been steadily upping the Research and Development (R&D) budget of the company. Satellites from Apple – man that’s got a nice ring to it!

Apple Satellites: The Team

The team comprising of engineers in the field of aerospace, satellite, and antenna design industries is led by Michael Trela and John Fenwick. These two were also a part of a software imaging company called “Skybox Imaging”, which was later acquired by Google, who then joined Apple in 2017. From their time in the company, the duo has been making a feasibility study of this potential project.

Apple’s CEO – Tim Cook

Moreover, Apple has hired Matt Ettus of “Ettus Research”, who is an expert in the wireless industry. Additionally, Ashley Moore Williams from Aerospace Corp. and Daniel Ellis from Netflix Inc., who’ve made their mark on the field of communication satellites and Content Delivery Network (CDN) respectively, have also joined Apple’s venture.

… not entirely a new concept

Well, “internet from space” is not entirely a new idea at all. Several companies like Iridium and Teledisc gave it a shot in the 90s but eventually failed due to the financial and technological constraints. However, that hasn’t stopped other visionaries from giving it a shot. In fact, you may be shocked to know that there are a handful of companies in the present day, marching forward to win the space-internet race.

Also read: Internet from Space, courtesy of Starlink

You may have heard about Google’s Project Loon which aimed at delivering high-speed internet in the rural areas of the world via a gigantic helium-powered balloon. And in the most recent times, Elon Musk announced a successful trial of the space-internet via SpaceX’s Starlink satellites. While Google’s balloons operate on a mere height of 100km, these satellites from SpaceX have 550km orbital height. And then there are companies like Amazon, Virgin Airline, and Samsung with their own vision for the space-internet.

SpaceX Starlink satellites in orbital planes
Credit: Mark Handley (YouTube)

While all this sounds interesting, we’re still not sure just how feasible the tech is and neither is Apple. As things stand, it’s a little ambivalent if Apple is looking to build satellites of its own, or it’ll just be building ground-based equipment to utilize the satellite data into its ecosystem of products. Cutting ties from the wireless carriers for a self-sufficient network sure sounds ambitious though!

Apple’s Endgame?

From a consumer standpoint, what Apple is trying to do is further lock its users into the “Apple experience”. We saw a similar approach reflected with the launch of “Apple Card” (credit card), “Apple TV+” (video streaming platform), “Apple Arcade” (game subscription service) and many more. You can read about them in detail by clicking here. Also, there have also been rumors of the company working on its own set of AR glasses. Should the “Apple satellites” project be successful, it’s only a matter of time that Apple becomes one of the most self-sustaining companies in the world.