Opera Software's mobile Web browser has reached an important milestone as the company prepares to reveal a version of Opera Mini that runs on the Apple iPhone at the upcoming Mobile World Congress show.
In a Feb. 12 release, Opera announced that its Mini browser had hit the 50-million mark for unique monthly visitors in January. Opera also released a chart of how the browser's popularity has grown since it first became available in January 2006.
Between January 2009 and January 2010, the number of Opera Mini users increased 150 percent, from 20 million to 50 million, according to the company.
"Our original goal with Opera Mini was to make the Web available to everyone, regardless of their network or mobile phone," Opera CEO Lars Boilesen said in a statement. "Fifty million active monthly users is a great start. Opera's innovative nature and its popularity among users will help us make the mobile Web even more accessible and attractive to more people across the world."
Opera plans to demonstrate a version of the Mini browser that runs on the iPhone at the MWC show, which kicks off Feb. 15 in Barcelona, Spain. In addition, the company just released the beta of Opera 10.5, its desktop Web browser.
In addition to the iPhone browser, Opera has more to unveil at MWC, including Opera Mobile 10 Beta running on Google Android handsets and Opera Mobile 10 Beta 3 on Symbian S60 and Windows Mobile handsets.
While Opera has found itself falling behind Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox and even Google Chrome when it comes to Web browser share for PCs, the company has done well when it comes to mobile browsers.
Opera stands as the most-used smartphone browser, with 24.6 percent of the market, narrowly edging out Apple's Safari browser for the iPhone with 22.3 percent, according to Web analytics company StatCounter. However, the same survey showed that if both the iPhone and iPod Touch are included, Safari wins with a 37.2 percent share.