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Alphabet unveils first independent spin-off, Niantic Labs

In the post announcing Alphabet, CEO Larry Page said Google would be “slimmed down” to focus on the goal of collecting all the world’s information. The first spin-off from Google to independent company will be Niantic Labs, the developers of Ingress and Field Trip.

The augmented reality gaming startup launched Ingress a few years ago, an augmented reality discovery game built on top of Google Maps. It is free and has over 12 million players, who try to track down gems around the city.

On top of the two apps, Niantic Labs is also working on a TV show inspired by Ingress.

The future of Niantic Labs could be based on building apps for Google Glass or working on interface design for the augmented reality device. With Microsoft HoloLens and Magic Leap both coming in the next two years, Niantic might also be able to move cross-platform.

It is not a massive spin-off, considering Niantic doesn’t make any revenue on its two apps. Google will continue to help fund the startup, but we suspect some type of monetisation will occur in the next year or two to keep Ingress running.

Android and YouTube are the two big departments we could potentially see split off from Google. YouTube already has its own CEO, Susan Wojcicki and has been separate from the ambitions of Google for over a year now. Google+ sign-up was disabled a few months ago on YouTube.

Having Android out of the Google bubble would also be a strong move to avoid European Union investigation. Russia is also investigating Google on anti-monopoly charges, pushed by Russian search engine Yandex—they claim Google is using Android to push Yandex out of the mobile market.

We still don’t know about Google’s robotics division or DeepMind Technologies either, whether they will be a separate company or inside Google. Alphabet will most likely update us on the status of these divisions in the next financial report.