As we have stated many times, the future is mobile. Facebook is showing its commitment to shoring up what had been a huge weakness.
On their blog, Onavo announced that Facebook has agreed to acquire it.
Onavo “helps people save money through more efficient use of data, and also helps developers, large and small, design better experiences for people.” It also has “built world-class products and a remarkably talented team which has pioneered important breakthroughs in data compression technology and mobile analytics.” Onavo makes apps for mobile users that keep track of mobile usage. Its apps use data compression technologies to extend a user’s data plan.
So Facebook buys another obscure (to us, though talented we’re sure) app inventor. Why is this significant.
It is significant because Facebook is again demonstrating that it understands the need to adapt. After all, the world is moving from the desktop to a mobile device. There has been no indication of what Facebook would do with Onavo or its technology that we have seen at this point. The data compression capabilities suggest that Facebook will be improving the mobile experience. Through its tracking and compression technologies for mobile devices, it would appear that Onavo would help Facebook on the revenue side as well.
There is some talk in Onavo’s blog post and news stories that Onavo’s data compression is important for Mark Zuckerberg’s Internet.org project. Internet.org is “a global partnership between technology leaders, nonprofits, local communities and experts who are working together to bring the internet to the two thirds of the world’s population that doesn’t have it.”
However, as we discussed, in this prior post, Facebook knows its limitations about the mobile space. Some people blamed this (and its handling of the issue) for tanking its IPO. Facebook has been active in strengthening its mobile business since then. We previously discussed Facebook’s moves into mobile apps here. Good for them to help their nonprofit. However, we suspect there are some business motives at the base of this transaction that address a continuing challenge for Facebook in mobile, its biggest area of weakness.