Apple (AAPL) - Get Report reportedly has a secret team working on satellites and related wireless technology to find new ways to connect its products and services as well as data directly to its devices.
Citing people familiar with the work, Bloomberg reported on Friday that Apple has about a dozen engineers from the aerospace, satellite and antenna design industries working on the project with the goal of deploying their results within five years.
Work on the project is still early and could be shelved, Bloomberg said, and a clear direction and use for satellites hasn’t been finalized. Still, Apple CEO Tim Cook has reportedly shown interest in the project, indicating it is a priority for the Cupertino, California-based company.
Apple’s focus on satellites and next-gen wireless technology means it is likely looking to beam data directly to a user’s device - potentially reducing its dependence on wireless carriers in the process - or looking to link devices together without a traditional network.
Apple could also be exploring satellites for more precise location tracking for its devices, enabling improved maps and new features. More realistically, like television and cable providers before it, Apple could be looking at setting up a content-driven direct network.
Indeed, while not confirmed by Apple, the project makes sense, given the company's intricate relationships with both fixed and wireless carriers globally, as well as its company- and product-wide efforts to move data and software off of devices and into the “cloud” - and it's recent push into the world of streaming content.
Apple isn’t the only company looking to create its own future satellite network. Amazon (AMZN) - Get Report also has plans to deploy more than 3,000 satellites as part of a future constellation. Facebook (FB) - Get Report and Elon Musk's SpaceX are also looking into launching satellite networks.
However, the industry also has its share of failures, including Iridium, which filed for bankruptcy protection in 1999, and Teledesic, which abandoned its “internet from the sky” plan more than a decade ago.
Shares of Apple were up 0.61% at $281.74 in morning trading on Friday.