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Cloudflare announced today that it has acquired Neumob to help improve the network performance of mobile apps by overhauling the way data is sent on the internet.
The deal nets Cloudflare interesting technology that’s focused on improving the network performance of mobile applications. It is also bringing the engineers who created that technology into the company’s fold. It’s a move that could have significant implications for the internet going forward, assuming Cloudflare is able to use Neumob’s know-how to improve mobile applications.
Neumob’s technology is designed to replace traditional internet protocols that weren’t necessarily designed with the issues of wireless networks in mind, Cloudflare CEO Matthew Prince told VentureBeat. He said that TCP, one of the core protocols behind the internet, assumes that packet loss means there’s a router in a wired network being overwhelmed somewhere and backs off of transmitting data.
“[That] makes a ton of sense on a wired network, but on a mobile network, when you start to see packet loss, that could just mean someone turned on the microwave or you’re driving through a tunnel, there are solar flares, or any number of things that the right reaction isn’t to back off,” Prince said.
Neumob built a new set of capabilities that are designed to do away with issues like that. The technology is able to make applications load up to 3 times faster and reduce app errors and timeouts by up to 90 percent.
The company originally packaged those network routing capabilities into both a consumer mobile application that worked a lot like a traditional virtual private network and a business-focused software development kit that allowed app developers to use Neumob’s tech to accelerate the network performance of their applications.
Prince said that the Neumob consumer app proved so popular that the company had to shut it down, since the startup’s systems couldn’t cope with the demand in a cost-effective way. But the developer product flourished and acquired notable customers, including HotelTonight, The Economist, and the Wall Street Journal.
Neumob has ceased serving its existing business and consumer customers while Cloudflare integrates its technology with the company’s worldwide network. Prince said that his company expects to relaunch both the network acceleration capabilities for developers and the consumer application once that work is finished.
In the future, Neumob’s tech could also take on a life of its own outside Cloudflare. While the company doesn’t have any immediate plans to do so, it’s beginning to discuss the process of releasing the technology to the world so that other high-scale network operators can take advantage of the performance enhancements. It’s not clear if and when that would happen, however.
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