Data Compression Startup Onavo Expands Device Support

Israeli company Onavo, the data compression startup that’s helping wireless customers shave down their data usage and stay within the data caps enforced by many mobile network providers, today announced that its Onavo Extend iOS app will now work with LTE iPads and the iPhone 4S on CDMA networks. It’s a natural extension of the company’s core philosophy, which is to keep consumers from getting dinged with mobile network overage charges.

Onavo works by compressing any data received to your device from the internet on its own AWS-powered cloud-based compression service. The result, for users, is much more economical web and app data usage. Which is good news for users of Apple’s new LTE iPads, which in Canada and the U.S. can eat through data much more quickly when connected to 4G networks.

The new iPads, and LTE in general, are a double-edged sword for users; on the one hand, they make internet use blazing fast, faster in most cases than users can get from home connections. On the other hand, usage limits, which generally cap out at 5 GB a month in Canada and hit a maximum of 10 GB in the U.S., make all that speed a big tease in terms of what you can use it for.

“LTE’s super fast speed does present new challenges to users with capped or throttled data plans,” Onavo CEO Gary Rosen told BetaKit in an interview. “Onavo Extend delivers a stripped down, more efficient version of the internet to help them enjoy up to five times more data usage without changing the way they use their devices.”

Onavo offers its services free, and Rosen says the company intends for the basics of what Extend provides to remain that way. But the startup isn’t without revenue plans; Rosen said Onavo intends to offer premium features that it will charge users for in the future, though he didn’t elaborate on what to expect in that regard. BetaKit asked whether it might make more sense for Onavo to eventually partner with carriers to implement its solution on their side of the equation in order to lessen mobile network strain, but Rosen emphasized that Onavo is first and foremost a consumer-focused product.

“Our vision for data management is user-centric and bottom-up rather than the top down approach of carriers,” he said. “We believe that users should be in control of their own mobile data experience.”

When it launched, Onavo attracted a lot of attention, because its products address something that’s becoming a growing concern for users with a set-and-forget solution that happens in the background. Today’s announcement shows the company is keen on making sure the product works where customer demand is focused, which should be a good recipe for growing its user base. The only question mark that remains is whether or not the startup can make its revenue plans a reality while also keeping up with its growth. With $13 million in funding from investors including Sequoia Capital and Motorola Mobility Ventures, however, including $10 million raised in January, it does have some breathing room to sort things out.

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