Facebook is acquiring the three-year-old startup Onavo, which creates software designed to optimize mobile data consumption and provide analytics services for mobile apps. According to Onavo, its Extend app allows users to receive up to five times more mobile data at no extra cost, using a method that first compresses internet traffic before routing it through the company's VPN. Other services include monitoring individual apps to provide insights into each service's data usage.
This technology matches the goals of Internet.org, an organization founded in part by Facebook that aims to bring internet access to the entire world for free or at a very low cost. Facebook and other founding companies, such as Ericsson, Nokia, Qualcomm, and Samsung, see big opportunity in emerging markets, although they admit that these areas may not be profitable any time soon. Data compression is key to servicing these areas and gaining the new customers, since the corporations themselves would likely be footing the bill for the foreseeable future. Onavo's Tel Aviv office will remain open, giving Facebook its first physical office in Israel.