Smartphones are well on the way to becoming omnipresent – according to tech analysts Canalys sales grew 83% in the first quarter of this year – and many businesses are already reaping the rewards of a work force that can stay on the ball on the move.

But if your business is paying employees’ smartphone bills – and particularly if it’s paying them during work trip abroad – you could be missing a trick.

Mobile data – the precious MBs employees need to download reports, access and contribute to spreadsheets and generally stay informed with their business – is still eye-wateringly expensive and data allowances only seem to be shrinking.

What’s more, despite EU regulations restricting the amount carriers can charge Brits within the Europe, costs skyrocket even more once you leave our shores.

And, of course, outside of Europe’s protective grasp the practice of charging sky-high, uncapped per MB charges continues unchecked.

To illustrate this let’s take, choosing a provider completely at random because they’re all much of a muchness – T-mobile.

Inside of Europe, the provider’s 50MB ‘Eurobooster’ add on is £10 a go; outside the EU 1MB costs £7.50.

There are 1024MB in a GB (remember those?) so, to put it another way, in Europe you’re paying about £20 for just 1GB and outside it’ll be, brace yourself, £7,680 a GB.


Obviously that’s an extreme example but it does illustrate the central point: data is expensive.

Enter Onavo. It’s an app, already available on iTunes and soon set to come to android, that compresses the data smartphones use to ‘double or even triple’ the bang you get for your data buck.

Currently Onavo only shrinks downloaded data (not media streaming or voice apps) but an update is expected soon and just that feature could suit business users down to the ground in any case.

Bosses who like to snoop on how shared phones are used might also like the app’s reports which detail exactly where that data allowance is going.

It’s new but it’s already approved: it won the prestigious ‘Best Mobile Start-Up’ at the The Next Web’s Startup Rally 2011 in Amsterdam recently, for example.

In short: it uses data better so that you pay less and your employees can do more wherever they are. That’s pretty clever.