Apple Buys AlgoTrim for Compression, Imagery Features

Data-compression and imagery features could help Apple if (and when) it launches an ultra-cheap iPhone.

Apple has snatched up a small technology firm that specializes in compressing data on mobile devices.

Sweden-based AlgoTrim’s Website describes its products as “designed to excel in terms of high performance and small memory requirements” and “ideal for mobile devices.” The news was first reported by Swedish news service Rapidus and later confirmed by other tech-news outlets, including TechCrunch.

AlgoTrim’s head of software development, Anders Holtsberg, told Rapidus in a phone conversation that he was indeed working for Apple, but declined to comment beyond that. Former AlgoTrim CEO Anders Berglund also declined comment.

According to its Website, AlgoTrim originally developed speed-centric codecs for single-core feature phones, and later evolved that software for multi-core smartphones. Its self-described flagship product is the Code Compression Library, a proprietary codec capable of compressing data with a minimum of loss; in addition, the company develops optimized versions of standard codecs. Apple could also be interested in AlgoTrim’s imagery-related work, including “super resolution” and technology that “will bring modern computational photography to mobile devices.”

“Computational photography” includes a variety of processing and manipulation techniques designed to boost digital photographs beyond what can be achieved with a traditional camera, such as the iPhone’s ability to snap wide panoramas.

Why would Apple want a company offering those sorts of capabilities? The ability to more efficiently compress data used by mobile devices is always welcome, especially as individuals continue to store and consume exponentially more data with each passing year. Apple also remains very interested in improving its smartphone cameras’ capabilities, and it seems as if AlgoTrim’s tools could prove helpful in that regard.

And last but certainly not least: AlgoTrim’s experience with low-powered phones, and its products designed to serve that segment, may prove a big help if (and when) Apple launches its low-cost iPhones. Those devices, which the tech press expects the company to unveil at a September event, will compete against midrange Google Android devices in developing markets where data connections tend to be slow and sparse; improving data- and imagery-related software would not only boost the power of those cheaper iPhones, but also allow Apple to deliver a variety of top-end features while keeping their hardware costs relatively low.

 

Image: Apple

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