Facebook Bought a Little Company that Could Hand it All the Web
Top Technorati Tech Blog VentureBeat highlights the recent purchase of Onavo, a small Israeli mobile app maker, snapped up by none other than social giant Facebook. Onavo, known for its line of mobile apps, has likely been favored for one popular creation in particular. The app directs its user's web traffic through Onavo's encrypted proxy servers, where the files that make up visited sites get compressed and optimized, then sent to the user's phone in a much more efficient, smaller data package.
The price tag for Onavo? Between $150 - $200 Million, according to VentureBeat. So what's the big deal here?
Most analysts appear to be reviewing the data compression app on its face value; after all, an app that can send the same websites to your mobile device while taking a smaller bite out of your expensive data plan deserves attention. But is Facebook's Onavo buy all about helping those with tight monthly mobile budgets?
There may be far-sighted moves going on in this purchase, making it an absolute steal for Facebook, and positioning CEO Zuckerberg to grab an insight into an enormous chunk of the Internet's traffic. Here's how:
Facebook could choose to integrate Onavo's technology into a mobile web search engine and/or browsing interface, offering its users a faster web experience and longer data plan life. The price? The traffic for your mobile browsing has to go through Facebook's servers.
With a larger share of Internet traffic being handled through mobile devices each passing day and over a billion Facebook users worldwide, there's an instant global audience for any process that could speed traffic up and save expensive data. As VentureBeat reminds, us, however, at what privacy-related price?
As Internet traffic passes through an Onavo-based server system to derive the data savings, Facebook would stand to harvest enormous amounts of analytic data — inter-relating visited websites and web searches, shopping habits and more, all coupled with Facebook's profile data (age, race, sex, location, etc.).
Basically, Facebook user-based data on steroids. Many a mobile advertiser would salivate for this sort of thorough user data.
Keep your eye on this new tech. Facebook's likely got something interesting and long-term up its sleeve.