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Apple nabs two of Google's top satellite executives

The iPhone maker reportedly recruited them for a new hardware team.

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New hires suggest Apple may be getting into satellites.

Peter Parks/AFP/Getty Images

Apple's next frontier: Space?

The iPhone maker has reportedly hired two of rival Google's top satellite executives for a new hardware team, which could point to plans in that area, according to a report Friday by Bloomberg.

The two execs are John Fenwick, who led Google's spacecraft operations, and Michael Trela, who was head of satellite engineering. They now report to Greg Duffy, co-founder of the camera company Dropcam, another former Googler, according to the report. Nest, a division under Google's parent Alphabet, bought Dropcam in 2014. But Duffy left Nest last year in part because of disagreements with Nest co-founder Tony Fadell, a former Apple exec.

Apple also reportedly held talks with Boeing to partner or invest in a broadband project that would put more than 1,000 satellites in low-earth orbit.

While Fenwick's and Trela's resumes suggest Apple could be going into satellites, it's of course possible that the company hired them to do something outside that space.

Silicon Valley's biggest tech companies are usually interested in satellites for either high-resolution imaging (like the ones used to improve mapping technology) or communications (like the ones used to beam down Wi-Fi to remote regions).

Fenwick and Trela joined Google three years ago after the search giant bought their satellite startup Skybox Imaging. But Google in February sold the company, which it renamed Terra Bella, to another satellite company, Planet Labs, started by ex-Nasa scientists.

Neither Apple nor Google immediately responded to requests for comment.