Convincing Users and Providers
Since Mini is being given away to users, Opera is betting that it can convince wireless operators and content providers to pay to license a "white box" version of the software that can be used to market their own online services, and drive revenue based on those types of deals. Sivertsen said wireless carriers are desperate to convince users to try out mobile Web applications, which will also convince them to begin pre-loading Mini on new phones."For our part, we think we can get people to start browsing for free today and bring those users over to future products, some of which might not be free." The spokesperson said Opera is currently in negotiations with several carriers, but did not offer specific details of those dealings. According to Forrester Research, the mobile Web does continue to grow in terms of traffic, but not at a spectacular rate. Based on the firms annual benchmark survey of 65,000 U.S. households, some 15 percent of mobile services subscribers accessed the Internet from their devices in 2005, compared to 6 percent in 2004. Charles Golvin, a Forrester analyst, predicts that number will increase again in 2006, but he said he does not believe that better mobile browsers will be a significant catalyst for any increase. "The browser is not the impediment to mobile Internet adoption; people arent avoiding it because of lousy browser, but because the experience of mobile Internet isnt great," he said. "I dont believe that having the option to put a better browser on the handset will be such a big deal to mobile Internet growth." In addition to sites that dont translate well to the small screen, no matter what technology is used to compress them, Golvin said that wireless networks remain too slow to support Web use on most phones, even when people use sites customized by carriers and programmed onto the phones they distribute. The analyst said that it may also be hard for Opera to land deals with wireless carriers, as companies including Access and Openwave already have established relationships with many operators. Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, reviews and analysis on mobile and wireless computing.
"Operators stand to see data traffic increase if people go online, and they know there are a lot of new revenue streams that can be built of off wireless Web, so we will make deals," said Sivertsen.