Opera Software plans on releasing Opera Mini for the iPhone as an App Store application, according to the company's co-founder, who publicly states that he anticipates no problems with Apple allowing the move. Opera has been disseminating Opera Mini to as many smartphone platforms as possible, including Google Android and Windows Mobile, as it attempts to preserve and maybe grow its market share in the mobile-browser arena. While the version of Opera Mini for the iPhone will include the same features as Opera Mini for other smartphones, it is also designed to sidestep the iPhone's lack of multitasking. Opera has not publicly announced a release date for Opera Mini for the iPhone.
Opera Software expects that Apple will allow Opera Mini onto the iPhone,
co-founder Jon von Tetzschner told eWEEK in a March 19 interview, and plans to
release the browser through the App Store at an unannounced point in the near
"Our expectation is that Apple will allow it," von Tetzschner
said. "Why will they block ours?"
Posting Opera Mini as a free mobile application, von Tetzschner added, was
deemed by Opera to be the only route for distributing the browser to as many
iPhone users as possible; offering it as a free download from the Opera site
would only make it available to jailbroken iPhones, which would come with its
own set of issues.
When asked for a specific release date, von Tetzschner would only allow that
it was coming "pretty soon."
Opera Mini for iPhone will compensate for the device's lack of multitasking
by allowing users to instantly return to their last-accessed Web page, fully
intact, after exiting and then restarting the browser. Otherwise, the user
interface is a virtual carbon copy of the versions available for other
smartphones. Given the focus on loading pages quickly, Opera Mini for iPhone
lacks Adobe Flash support for loading rich content from certain Websites.
has lately been focused on disseminating its mobile offerings to as many
smartphones as possible.
On March 11, Opera released a beta of Opera Mini 5
for Google Android, a week after the company announced that it would release
the same application for Windows Mobile 5.x and 6.x smartphones.
"Windows Mobile deserves a mobile browser that looks better, handles
better, and delivers better than the default browser," Dag Olav Norem,
Opera's vice president of products, wrote in a March 4 statement accompanying
the release of Opera Mini 5 beta for Windows Mobile. "We are pleased to
offer the world's most popular mobile Web browser as a native Windows Mobile
Common features across all versions of Opera's mobile browser include tabbed
browsing, a focus on increased speed and 90 percent data compression. Von
Tetzschner claims that Opera's desktop-based and mobile browsers have between
120 and 150 million active users worldwide-"all those numbers go through
our servers"-and that a strong base for the software exists in Central and
Eastern Europe, Africa and Asia. That geographical orientation, he adds,
results in Opera being undercounted by many analysis firms, which tend to take
their samples for browser market share from Western Europe
and North America.
According to analytics company StatCounter, Opera Mini is currently the
most-used smartphone browser, with 24.6 percent of the market, in contrast to
Apple's Safari browser for the iPhone with 22.3 percent. If both the iPhone and
the iPod Touch are included in those calculations, Apple's share rises to 37.2
percent. Opera has said previously that Opera Mini has around 50 million active
Opera is still concentrating on the desktop market, however, with releases
such as February's Opera 10.50 for Windows, which the company touted as
"the fastest browser ever." That version of the browser includes a
than the previous version, along with a new Vega graphics library. Other
features include private browsing, the ability to use the search engine of
choice directly in the address field and, for developers, support for HTML5 and
CS 2.1 and a good portion of CSS 3. Opera is
seeking to claim market share in the desktop arena from the leading
competitors, including Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox and Google
Opera plans on having more to announce about Opera Mini during the CTIA
conference in Las Vegas, which
starts on March 23 and will see many mobile IT companies unveil their latest
and greatest offerings.