Apple purchased Swedish data compression company Algotrim on Wednesday. Algotrim specializes in compressing data for mobile imaging and video. Recently, it hiked JPEG-processing speeds for Japanese carrier KDDI. Algotrim’s technology allows for ultra-fast decompression and could be used to boost (as it did with KDDI) the speed of image-heavy applications, once they are stored in Algotrim’s compression technology).
The field of data compression might be the next phase of mobile development as mobile devices become the primary tool for sharing photos. Facebook announced its plans to cut its average 12 MB of data usage to 1MB. With 250 million photos uploaded per day (as of year-end 2011) and 100 quadrillion bytes of photos and video shared in the fourth quarter of 2011, photo compression could be a big step in reducing the social media company’s data footprint.
Cisco’s research estimated that the average North American smartphone owner would use 6GB of data per month by 2017. As users access more data on their phones, they want it faster. A survey by Keynote Competitive Research firm found that 64% of smartphone users want a website to load within four seconds.
Algotrim’s technology could give the iPhone’s camera and photo-uploading capabilities a huge boost, a possible edge over Samsung’s Galaxy series, as well as paving the way for some much-needed improvement to Apple’s photo storage, organization and sharing tool for Macs and iOS, iPhoto. (Reviews suggest iPhoto for iOS is bad and that iPhoto for OSX is mediocre.)
Facebook and Apple are jumping on the compression bandwagon. Those that aren’t quick to follow could end up getting left brutally behind. As tablets and smartphones become more powerful, people will use them more often for data-heavy tasks. Data compression will play an even bigger role in smartphones and tablets’ appeal.