An Inside Look At How PacketZoom Is Accelerating Performance In China’s 1.3B Mobile User Market

In the summer of 2016, Shlomi Gian made the decision to leave the comfort of corporate America giant Akamai and join 3-year old startup PacketZoom as their CEO. Shlomi was not sure how “David” could compete with the industry “Goliaths” in selling this new in-app networking solution that challenged the fundamental axioms the performance market has been trained to follow for years. After all, everyone knows that the world has gone mobile but too many of us have accepted the fact that the mobile experience will always lag far behind the desktop experience. Many people believed that not much could be done to address the problem since the industry was widely adopting old web solutions in the failed attempt to resolve the mobile challenge.

A few weeks after joining PacketZoom, Shlomi and the team realized there’s a smarter way to way to settle this dispute: “David” can utilize his innovative edge to enhance “Goliaths” power so everyone wins. Luckily, PacketZoom’s Mobile Expresslane was designed to be CDN agnostic, and there was no direct integration between the two. That helped address an important market decision the company made in the early days deciding that PacketZoom’s solution will enhance CDNs and not replace them. The idea of joining forces with the big guys was seeded and the obvious partners became the dozen web CDN vendors. Many of them had already started expressing frustration with the limitation of traditional CDN services in a mobile-first world and had been searching for smart, breakthrough technologies to resolve the mobile performance challenge. The market was ready to take the leap and start providing mobile app devops with a one stop shop for their mobile app performance needs.

Much had been said about the Chinese market and the speed in which the country is developing. With 430 million devices shipped last year, the Chinese mobile is the biggest smartphone market on the planet, and with $5.5B in game revenue, the Chinese mobile gaming industry is surely one to watch. The less discussed topic is the state of the Chinese mobile networks. While LTE is being deployed everywhere, it seems like the size and population density is challenging  even the latest telecommunication technology. Based on PacketZoom Mobile Observatory, China suffers from 9.2% transfer failure rate (similar to Malaysia, India and Brazil), and a high packet loss.  These two parameters have severe impact on content download time and overall performance.

Late last year, an initial and infrequent conversation between PacketZoom and ChinaCache started to formalize. The idea of partnering with China’s leading CDN, and leveraging its size and expertise to penetrate the Chinese market made perfect sense. PacketZoom, a hungry, fast-growing start-up with a vision to “offer technology that sets the standard for mobile app performance worldwide, simply and reliably“, could change the standard of mobile performance in China. Initial testing indicated that PacketZoom’s Mobile Expresslane, running in ChinaCache data centers in mainland reduced latency by 3x on average, which meant a significant improvement in both static content download, as well as API access time and failure rate. The combined solution worked flawlessly and was ready to sell into the market.

Earlier this month ChinaCache and PacketZoom completed their contract and PacketZoom’s Mobile Expresslane will now be operated and sold exclusively in the Chinese market by ChinaCache. This will be the first time that I know of that mobile content delivery is optimized in all three miles in a production environment and based on early results the companies are seeing, expectations are pretty high.