SpaceX earned $1.4 billion from its Starlink satellite internet last year. The Wall Street Journal reports this, citing internal documents, and adds that although sales have increased almost sevenfold compared to the previous year, they have only reached around a tenth of what was targeted for 2022 seven years ago. The US newspaper also writes that the number of customers at the turn of the year was also significantly below forecasts. Just over a million users is only a twentieth of the number that Starlink should already be providing with internet at this point. The service is also a long way from the actually planned operating income of 7 billion US dollars.
Market for satellite internet too small?
The numbers indicate, according to the report, that Starlink is increasingly confronted with a reality that many satellite internet skeptics have pointed out. The majority of the world’s population that can afford such a service lives in cities. And that’s exactly where fast internet connections are usually available and at significantly cheaper prices. Starlink is, for example, an alternative option for cruise ships, oil platforms and even airlines to access the Internet with high data rates, but these are still only niche markets that can barely generate tens of billions of US dollars in sales.
The Wall Street Journal also published the internal expectations, which have now turned out to be significantly excessive, in 2017. SpaceX itself is not listed on the stock exchange and is not subject to the associated transparency obligations. According to the figures, SpaceX should earn $12 billion from Starlink alone by 2022, and 20 million people should have taken out a Starlink subscription that year. For the space company, satellite internet should become the most important financial pillar from 2021 and generate billions in profits. In reality, this is offset by a loss of $1.5 billion for 2021 and 2022, the US newspaper published a month ago.
It is currently unclear whether SpaceX is simply running behind its ambitious goals or whether the planned growth rates cannot be achieved with satellite internet at all. In any case, the US company doesn’t have any money worries because the rocket launches bring a lot into the coffers. SpaceX has also broken its own ambitious goals here, but things are now running smoothly and the company is setting one record after another. Meanwhile, investors are planning for the long term and are not expecting quick profits. The company also has full order books and NASA relies on its company to transport people to the International Space Station (ISS). Meanwhile, Starlink has proven to be extremely strategically valuable in the Ukraine war.
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