Over the weekend, Facebook acquired Spool, makers of the popular Spool apps fro iOS and Android. Spool, on the surface, is basically an app that allows users to store web content for offline viewing – that includes text, audio, and video. If you’ve ever used similar apps like Instapaper, you know the drill.
Except Spool’s expertise with video content sets it apart, and as some have pointed out, their caching and sharing strategy for content could be a huge bonus for Facebook, a company that by most accounts has struggled a bit in the mobile arena.
Here’s what Spool had to say about the purchase in a blog post over the weekend:
We started Spool to make content easy to consume on a mobile device. To accomplish this, we built some very sophisticated technology and developed a deep expertise in mobile software development. We firmly believe that solving these problems will be increasingly important as the world accesses the Internet primarily through mobile devices.
We are proud to announce that today we will be pursuing our vision as a part of Facebook.
It’s that “very sophisticated technology” that Om Malik over at GigoOm discussed in a recent post:
The app, however hides a technology that is immensely useful for Facebook. Spool had built its own media-distribution network using servers and caching media content in various data centers. Web content you saved can be parsed, cached, queued up and made available for quick access on the apps or on the web. The approach to cache and share content extended beyond just web page content. It also allowed you to watch videos or other media inside the Spool app as well – spooled for instant view or offline viewing later.
In short, Spool’s technology allows for the smooth reformatting of text, audio, and video from web to mobile. The app’s goal was to enhance content for mobile, because we all know that what works on the web doesn’t always works on mobile.
I say was, because the Spool apps have been shut down – although Facebook’s acquisition targeted the Spool team, but not its assets.
Hopefully, that Spool team will be instrumental in the finished product of a new iOS app that Facebook is reportedly working on as we speak. A faster, less clunky app was hinted at last month, and just last week a Facebook engineer confirmed the existence of said project during a reddit AMA. We know that they crappy Facebook app that’s caused so many users so many headaches is going to get better. Maybe this acquisition will help that process along.