Google‘s surprise Alphabet announcement has definitely sent theories, speculations, and analyses flying all over the Internet. Naturally, it has also shaken up Google’s own properties and subsidiaries, most of which are now owned by the Alphabet mothership. That said, not everyone and everything might be joining the new club. Niantic Labs, known for its augmented reality “game” Ingress, has just announced that it is spinning off as an independent company from Google. But equally interesting is the absence of any mention if it will now be included in the Alphabet soup.
Niantic came under the spotlight in late 2012 when word of a new augmented reality game from Google got out. Ingress, however, isn’t something you can easily categorize as a “game”, more like an interactive AR fiction that plays out over the real world. Ingress didn’t exactly become a household name but it did gather enough faithful following to be marked as a success. In March, Niantic announced that it was working on a new AR “game” called “Endgame: Proving Ground” along the same ideas.
That might be put on hold for a little while as Niantic makes the transition away from Google as its parent company. It is curiously silent on whether it will be part of the larger Alphabet group, giving rise to speculation that it won’t. That said, it isn’t completely severing ties with Google. It teases upcoming new partners joining as collaborators, which includes Google.
As to what its concrete plans are, it’s delaying that information for later, only saying that it will be bringing “exploration and fun” to a bigger audience. It might have been for ahead of its time though. Advancements and trends today, particularly in virtual reality, could give Niantic a more receptive crowd.
Niantic was also responsible for Field Trip, the AR app that eventually got assimilated into mainstream Google. The fate of this app was not mentioned.
NOTE: An early version of this article suggested that “only 250,000” people were recorded participating in Ingress when in fact this number “refers to the number of players who have participated in a live Ingress community event hosted by Niantic Labs in cities across the world” according to a representative of Niantic Labs.