Facebook may have snatched WhatsApp out from under Google's nose, but Google has certainly one-upped Facebook with its latest purchase of drone maker Titan Aerospace. Facebook was reportedly in talks with the drone maker, but Google announced on Monday that it had bought Titan Aerospace for an undisclosed amount.
Although Google would not comment directly on the purpose of its purchase of Titan Aerospace, it did mention that it sees the company's solar-powered drones as an excellent opportunity to bring Internet access to remote areas of the world where high-tech infrastructure is missing.
"It is still early days, but atmospheric satellites could help bring Internet access to millions of people, and help solve other problems, including disaster relief and environmental damage like deforestation," a Google spokesman said in a statement.
Google famously unveiled Project Loon, its wonky balloon-based Internet proselytizing mission recently, and it's no secret that the search engine company wants to see its services in use around the world. Facebook has a similar dream and was also looking at Titan Aerospace as its way to spread the gospel of the Internet. This time, it seems that Google beat Facebook to the punch.
Nonetheless, the effective use of Titan Aerospace's solar drone technology may be years away from use as a vehicle to spread the Internet around the globe. Patrick Egan, an editor at sUAS News, a website covering drones, says the current Titan Aerospace drone lineup won't be able to beam Internet signals worldwide just yet.
"The problem with solar planes is that they are limited to smaller payloads. At night you are not collecting energy from the sun and it takes a lot of power to broadcast Internet signals," he said.
Google isn't discouraged, though. It clearly believes that this latest acquisition is an investment in a key future technology. Facebook and Amazon seem to think so, too and they can't all be wrong -- can they?
At this stage, it's too hard to tell if drones are the answer to all of our first-world problems, but it certainly looks like tech industry leaders are looking to the sky as a way to accrue more users.