Facebook isn't ready to put its wallet away just yet. Reports indicate the company is in talks to buy drone maker Titan Aerospace for $60 million.
It might seem like an unusual buy for the social network, but as one of the primary backers of the Internet.org initiative, it makes more sense. (Via Mobile World Live)
Internet.org strives to bring affordable Internet to the reported 5 billion people worldwide who are still without access.
“The solar panels covering the craft’s surface store enough energy to allow them to ascend to a position of 20 km above sea level and stay aloft continuously for five years.”
The Solara 60 can also reportedly carry 250 pounds of gear, which sounds like enough for some wireless Internet equipment right? (Via Titan Aerospace)
But Gizmodo tells the media to slow down a second, saying the whole idea seems a little “crazy.” Remember, this is still a rumor, and even if it does happen, it will take some time before drones dot the African sky.
But that’s not stopping TechCrunch from speculating on how this $60 million buy might fit in nicely with Facebook’s $19 billion grab last month of WhatsApp.
“If Facebook could project weak but free Internet to developing nations via Titan Aerospace drones, it could then make a basic version of WhatsApp available to those users. … They likely could send messages and view status updates, even if they only had a weak, slow connection.”
Oddly, Facebook has some sky competition. Google’s Project Loon is attempting to bring 3G-like networks to underserved areas using balloons.
But why the altruistic interest? Fox Business writes, “Both Google and Facebook stand to gain by expanded Internet access, which could open their services to billions of potential new users.”
It’s a little cynical, but theoretically, if Facebook brings you internet, you’ll be hooked. Of course, though, those potential gains are a ways off in time and from the project’s core mission.