Apple Hires Two Google Executives With Satellite Expertise

Discussion in ' News Discussion' started by MacRumors, Apr 21, 2017.

  1. MacRumors macrumors bot


    Apr 12, 2001

    Apple has recently hired John Fenwick and Michael Trela, two Google satellite executives, reports Bloomberg. Fenwick led Google's spacecraft operations, while Trela was head of satellite engineering.

    Both Trela and Fenwick are reporting to Greg Duffy, the former co-founder of camera company Dropcam. What the two are doing at Apple is unclear, but Bloomberg speculates they're either working on satellites for image collection or satellites for communications.

    Rumors have suggested Apple is using a fleet of drones to collect data to improve Apple Maps, with the company having filed for an FAA permit to be able to fly drones for commercial purposes. Apple also acquired Aether Industries in 2015, a previously unknown purchase.

    Aether Industries develops high-bandwidth radio transceivers and high-altitude balloons. On its website, Aether Industries shows off a range of high-resolution aerial imagery and claims to provide a "full imaging and mapping solution for full color aerial images."


    There's also evidence Apple is interested in deploying satellites for communication purposes. Boeing has been working on sending more than 1,000 satellites into low-earth orbit for the purpose of providing broadband access, and the company has reportedly been in talks with Apple.
    Former Boeing executive James Bell also joined Apple's board of directors back in October of 2015, another potential link between Apple and Boeing.

    It continues to be unclear if Apple will get involved with Boeing's broadband endeavor, but it's easy to see why Apple might be interested with Boeing aiming for faster speeds than existing cellular systems.

    Apple and Google declined to comment on the hiring, while Fenwick, Trela, and Duffy did not respond to Bloomberg's request for comments.

    Article Link: Apple Hires Two Google Executives With Satellite Expertise
  2. farewelwilliams macrumors 68020

    Jun 18, 2014
    satellite internet please. get rid of carriers and get rid of the complexity of using my iphone in a new country.
  3. Asarien macrumors 6502

    Sep 24, 2015
    Oakland, CA
    What ever happened to their anti-poaching pact?

    Or was it only when engineers and executives were leaving Apple?
  4. mi7chy macrumors 603


    Oct 24, 2014
    My guess it's related to car communication.
  5. cube, Apr 21, 2017
    Last edited: Apr 21, 2017

    cube macrumors P6

    May 10, 2004
    Loving the ping, speed, and cost.
  6. mozumder macrumors 6502a

    Mar 9, 2009
    I'm surprised Apple just doesn't straight-up build it's own ISP service. They really need to cut out the middle-man, especially with net-neutrality gone. It's expensive, but Apple is one of the few companies that can do it.
    --- Post Merged, Apr 21, 2017 ---
    Also, satellite internet is really slow, and should only be used for emergency communications. The bandwidth just isn't there, even with a thousand low-earth satellites.
  7. SeattleMoose macrumors 68000

    Jul 17, 2009
    Der Wald
    Boeing/Apple would be a good partnership. They are both leaders in their fields. The current "slow" technology will NEVER get better until time is spent refining and polishing it. Or by some new technology that emerges by design or accident and becomes a game changer.
  8. cube macrumors P6

    May 10, 2004
  9. mozumder macrumors 6502a

    Mar 9, 2009
    It won't get better. There is a literal bandwidth limit to satellite communications.
  10. citysnaps macrumors 601

    Oct 10, 2011
    San Francisco
    There is no anti-poaching pact.

    Apple, due to Steve Job's illegal scheme, along with Adobe and Google, were slapped down pretty hard in Federal District Court for participating in that.
  11. Vanilla35, Apr 21, 2017
    Last edited: Apr 21, 2017

    Vanilla35 macrumors 68040


    Apr 11, 2013
    Washington D.C.
  12. RobinInOR macrumors 6502a


    Sep 14, 2014
    Yup, latency. Am on wildblue satellite internet and while better, you are still a slave to physics it's all in the distance. That's why I'm always interested in any lower altitude ideas.
  13. macduke macrumors G4


    Jun 27, 2007
    Central U.S.
    Would love it if Apple became an ISP. We could cut out all of these companies that are monopolizing and manipulating our laws so they can sell our privacy without our permission. Apple would make a great set of dumb pipes, but it's probably going to cost us. I'd be willing to pay as anything they devise would likely be fast and secure. Satellites though? That sounds like a big challenge.
  14. ArtOfWarfare, Apr 21, 2017
    Last edited: Apr 21, 2017

    ArtOfWarfare macrumors G3


    Nov 26, 2007
    That's existing satellite providers which only have ~60 satellites tens (hundreds?) of thousands of miles from the surface of the planet.

    If you have a satellite network made up of thousands of satellites ~200 miles from the surface, the ping and bandwidth will dramatically improve, as well as the efficiency and battery consumption (another major issue with existing satellite internet you left off.)

    As for price - if you reuse your rockets that put the satellites into orbit, you dramatically reduce that (that's why Google is heavily investing in SpaceX.)

    And that final point is why I expect SpaceX's satellite internet (expected to be deployed within a year or two) to kick cellular's, and maybe also broadband's, behind. Not sure what Boeing's plan for deploying their own satellites affordably is... I don't think they've demonstrated reusability that even begins to approach what SpaceX has, yet.
  15. Glideslope macrumors 603


    Dec 7, 2007
    A quiet place in NY.
    Very interesting. Looks like Apple want's to go above the Cloud. :apple:
  16. cube macrumors P6

    May 10, 2004
    How do you support billions of people?
  17. farewelwilliams macrumors 68020

    Jun 18, 2014
    try again with:
    --- Post Merged, Apr 21, 2017 ---
    exactly this. also, imagine the number of hops would be dramatically reduced once everyone starts getting on satellites. bottleneck would be scalability by the satellites.
  18. campyguy macrumors 68040

    Mar 21, 2014
    What citysnaps wrote, but also more like due to Google selling their Terra Bella business to Planet Labs a couple of months ago. Google will lease back imagery from Planet Labs. The Terra Bella deal also includes a group of Google's SkySat Earth imaging satellites. I used to work with satellite and aerial images, mainly in Mr. SID TIFF format - I believe that Planet Labs has never owned hi-res imaging satellites, only medium-res units so this is a big get for them, I recall not seeing anything in the PR about a transfer of employees - I'm guessing the Google imaging/sat office is a bit more empty now.
  19. mark-vdw macrumors regular

    Jan 20, 2013
    So, Apple isn't buying Tesla as was once rumoured... they're buying SpaceX :D
  20. quatermass macrumors member


    Sep 19, 2009
    Wow - this is absolutely a Thing. And you can bet whatever is behind it is something nobody has thought of or spotted - yet. 1,000 sats in LEO is a big deal.
  21. manu chao macrumors 603

    Jul 30, 2003
    It has been declared illegal already a long time ago.
  22. kdarling, Apr 21, 2017
    Last edited: Apr 21, 2017

    kdarling macrumors P6


    Jun 9, 2007
    First university coding class = 47 years ago
    Under Tim Cook, Apple has consistently tried to become more like Google. Maps, ads, experimental projects, world comms. Wouldn't be surprised if Apple got into search engines soon.

    Yep, current satellite latency is why companies continue to lay underwater cables all around the globe. Even at light speed (186,000 miles per second), a few 22,000 mile geosynchronous orbit satellite hops (each way!) add up.

    It's a lot faster to use a fiber cable at sea level (and below) to go around the world, where the max distance is closer to half the earth's circumference, or roughly a mere 12,000 miles.
  23. johnnyturbouk macrumors 68000


    Feb 9, 2011
    on the yellow [oled] brick road to tech nirvana.
    Damn it Apple, in the name of diversity, why not hire a someone who has a mastery of ordering from Just Eat, as I do!
    If Jonny Ive want's a lamb shwarma at 0330, or Tim fancies a plum and orange duck chow mein first thing in the morning - I'm your man.

    I can even read bedtime stories for creative geniuses suffering from insomnia, as my dull, monotonous British accent sends many of my co-workers to sleep.

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