Apple has acquired AlgoTrim, a Swedish startup that builds codecs and designs solutions that maximize performance of data, mobile imaging, video and computer graphics while minimizing memory requirements, according to a new report by Swedish emerging industry news service Rapidus, confirmed separately by TechCrunch. The helps Apple in terms of allowing it to build more efficient media deliver for mobile devices, that use less bandwidth while preserving quality.
The last major news from AlgoTrim came out back in March 2012, when it announced that it would be powering a Photo Album app for Japanese carrier KDDI, via a JPEG processor it created that could improve JPEG processing up to six times vs. traditional LibJPEG standard processing tech used in Android devices. AlgoTrim has been around since 2005, and its flagship product, the Code Compression Library (designed to reduce the size of mobile device firmware) has been in use on mobile devices since 2006.
AlgoTrim deals in all kinds of data compression, and promised to deliver imaging solutions that would deliver “modern computational photography” to mobile devices. Computational photography essentially uses sensors, computing, actuators, intelligent lights and other components to go beyond the current limitations of digital photography, which is based primarily on its analog, film-based precedent. The basic idea is to provide much more accurate images, with sophisticated lighting and vastly improved rendering by straying away from a strictly 2D, pixel-based model of image representation.
The work that AlgoTrim is doing in digital imaging could be very useful to Apple as a means to help the camera powers of its mobile devices jump to the next level. Not to mention that the rest of the company’s tech is generally useful, if extremely technical, in terms of helping to improve the overall operating efficiency of mobile devices. In essence, AlgoTrim focuses on getting more out of mobile processors while also chasing ever-lower power demands.
Rapidus reports that AlgoTrim co-founder, CEO and head of software development Anders Holtsberg recently moved to Silicon Valley and is reachable via Apple’s own central telephone switchboard. Calls to AlgoTrim, as well as AlgoTrim incubator Minc, were met with the response that no one was allowed to discuss anything about an Apple acquisition at this time, a standard response for smaller companies snapped up by Apple. Apple itself hadn’t responded to request for comment as of this writing.
An AlgoTrim acquisition is very much in keeping with Apple’s acquisition strategy; the company has already acquired six companies this year according to reports, including a number of startups dealing with maps, transit and location, along with one semiconductor firm. Typically, Apple has pursued lower profile targets in deals that are seldom formally announced, opting to pick up smaller startups that have the expertise needed to accomplish one of its own goals, rather than purchasing larger companies that are extremely successful in their own right and trying to continue to run that product, as Facebook has done with Instagram, for instance.
Update: Apple has come as close to confirming the acquisition to TechCrunch as it ever does with the following statement:
Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans.