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Couchbase Adapts Big Data for Mobile Devices

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Couchbase, a NoSQL startup, launched a beta version of its database product for Apple devices ¬†on Monday. Mobile Couchbase for iOS products allows Apple iPhone (s aapl) developers to create applications that ensure users always have up-to-date versions of their data, whether it’s stored on the mobile device or on enterprise servers.

Mobile Couchbase should provide developers and end-users with fulfilling experiences, but the biggest winner might be Mountain View, Calif.-based Couchbase itself, which is hoping to prove once and for all that NoSQL doesn’t mean big data.

The way Mobile Couchbase works is simple enough: The product’s CouchSync features automatically sync data bidirectionally between mobile devices and a backend CouchDB database. Depending on the type of application and who develops it, that database might be hosted locally in a user’s enterprise data center or in the cloud. So, regardless what clients users are using to access data or act upon it, they have access to the latest version. Even mobile users without network connectivity will have access to the database as it was last updated before they lost their connections.

Once back online, any changes they make are synchronized with the backend database. This helps promote better graceful degradation of online apps when stuck offline. Couchbase says its iOS development platform “is ideal for data such as user preferences, contacts, game scores and enterprise application data,” ostensibly, because these are the types of data ideal for NoSQL data stores, and for which consumers will always want the most up-to-date versions.

Because the data sets in question are relatively small, and because CouchDB, upon which Mobile Couchbase is based, utilizes a small library and minimal memory usage, Couchbase says its mobile platform has a minimal effect on device performance. Additionally, according to the press release, “CouchSync technology is designed to minimize synchronization-related radio traffic, extending battery life.”

As for Couchbase, it wants to expand its NoSQL business beyond massive-scale web applications and into the more broadly applicable mobile applications space. I discussed this back in November, when CouchOne (the “Couch” half of Couchbase while it was still an independent company) distanced itself from the term NoSQL in order to focus on building this type of application platform that has precious little to do with storing and analyzing mountains of unstructured data. Big data is a hot space right now, but mobile is hotter and bigger, and Couchbase thinks it has a unique story to tell mobile developers.