Social networking giant Facebook is to acquire mobile data compression start-up Onavo in a bid to make its services more cross-platform - especially for users accessing the service on mobile devices.
Founded in 2010 by Guy Rosen and Roi Tiger, Onavo develops apps for Android and iOS that compress data before it hits users' networks, speeding up downloads and cutting costs for people with restricted mobile data accounts.
The technology uses Onavo's content delivery network to deliver server-side compression in a similar manner to Opera Software's Opera Mini web browser. Facebook had been linked to a potential takeover of Opera last year, which never arose, possibly due to the $1bn-plus price tag on the Norwegian software company.
While a growing number of mobile subscribers in the US and Europe enjoy either large data allowances or have unlimited data plans, in emerging markets where Facebook is growing fast, the restrictions can be very much greater.
The data compression technology works by reducing the size of images and other data to fit the characteristics of users' devices. Hence, a 2MB image intended for a desktop PC display can be reduced to just 30KB for displaying on the screen of a smartphone. This both speeds up browsing, while drastically reducing data consumption.
Onavo's technology will be built into Facebook apps for iOS and Android, although Rosen and Tiger said that the company would continue with its standalone apps after the deal has closed.
"When the transaction closes, we plan to continue running the Onavo mobile utility apps as a standalone brand. As always, we remain committed to the privacy of people who use our application and that commitment will not change," they wrote.