Android Gets an Aria from Opera

By Clint Boulton  |  Posted 2008-04-11 Print this article Print

Goggle's fledgling mobile operating platform got a nice booster Thursday when Opera Software made its Opera Mini browser available for the Android platform.

The Norway-based browser specialist is letting Android developers grab the technical preview release here, so they can poke around it and provide feedback before the forthcoming beta.

While not terribly significant in itself, the preview release is another step in Goggle's methodic, if not robotic, march to put Android in front of as many users as possible.

The Opera Mini has been downloaded by more than 40 million users around the world since January 2006, and that's no accident. The software is optimized for smart phones because it shrinks data at a server before sending content to be rendered by the phone's applet.

With features such as small screen rendering, zoom, synched bookmarks and Google search, Opera shares the same goal with Mini as Google does with Android: to provide desktop-like Web browsing from a mobile phone.

To enable this, the Opera Mini browser renders Web pages that have been transcoded to the OBML (Opera Binary Markup Language) format, meaning much smaller downloads and a faster browsing experience on mobiles than would be provided by other browsers, Opera programmer Chris Mills said in a blog post.

He also notes that the Android WebKit browser component has a switch to let a transcoding proxy switch Web pages to a simpler form of HTML. "Whether this is as small and fast as Opera Mini's OBML remains to be seen."

Google may be closer to Mozilla than Opera, but you can still sort of see the battle lines that will be drawnOpera and Mozilla's Firefox with Google, versus Windows and Symbian. However, in the wacky world of wireless, an enemy one day can be a cozy friend the next.

The bottom line is that all of the browser makers, mobile operating system makers and mobile apps developers want to hook you into using their products because of the potential exposure to what could be more than 500 million mobile phone users in the world.

When you consider that not all of these phones are Web-enabled smart phones, there is a lot of room for explosive growth in Internet gadgets over the next decade or so. The Opera-Android pairing is just the latest in what will certainly be a lot of wireless combinations. |

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