Swarm, the Internet-of-Things connectivity provider that was acquired by SpaceX, will no longer be selling new devices, according to an email sent to customers earlier this month.
The news appears to be directly related to SpaceX’s forthcoming expansion into the satellite-to-cell market, with Swarm telling customers that it plans to offer a version of its low-power M138 modem that is compatible with SpaceX’s Direct to Cell network.
While Swarm said that it will continue to support ongoing VHF communications between Earth and space using its SwarmBEEs satellite constellation, it does seem like it will ultimately yield to its parent company’s ambitions to connect mobile phones and IoT devices on its own network.
Swarm, which was founded in 2016 by Sara Spangelo and Ben Longmier, emerged in 2018 with an ambitious plan to launch a satellite network and sell hardware that can turn almost anything into a connected device. The company sold a low-power modem called Swarm M138 and a kit for IoT product development, and offered low-bandwidth satellite connectivity for as low as $5 per month.
The company was purchased by SpaceX in 2021, and it remains SpaceX’s only acquisition. Longmier is now a senior direct of satellite engineering at SpaceX, while Spangelo is SpaceX’s senior director satellite engineering — and the co-lead of the Direct to Cell initiative.
SpaceX is most known for its Starlink satellite internet service, but the company announced last year that it would expand into cellular connectivity — an enormous market, especially in the developing world. Last summer, SpaceX and T-Mobile said they would launch a new service aimed at providing Starlink service to devices on T-Mobile’s network. This effort is no doubt ramping up this year, with a SpaceX executive saying in March that service testing will begin this year.