Opera Advances Mobile Portal, Widget Plans

The browser maker is expanding its mobile technologies via new partnerships to build wireless device portals and other applications development software.

Browser maker Opera Software announced a pair of new deals aimed at further establishing its presence in the wireless sector, launching development tools for handheld device portals and other mobile Web applications.

Giving the first details at the ongoing 3GSM World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, the browser company said it is teaming with fellow Norwegian firms Telenor and Fast Search & Transfer to create a system for building mobile portals.

The package will include tools for delivering location-based information, news feeds, maps and traveling information directly to mobile phones.

Opera will lend its AJAX (Asynchronous JavaScript and XML) browser applications technology to the effort, Fast Search will contribute its search tools, and carrier Telenors research and development unit will provide marketing and customer testing.

The firms said the portal initiative was created as part of Movation, a new mobile technology think tank formed by Norwegian companies.

/zimages/6/28571.gifMobile browsers still arent ready for the enterprise, experts say. Read more here.

AJAX is a technology used to build Web applications that retrieve users information commands more quickly than traditional software programs.

By combining elements of programming tools such as JavaScript, DHTML (Dynamic HTML), XML and CSS, AJAX promises to allow Web sites to update content almost simultaneously as a user enters information into a site or browser.

"This solution will provide a complete ecosystem where content providers can offer relevant information directly to the end-user, without the need for navigating through [WAP (Wireless Application Protocol)] portals," Hans Christian Haugli, chief executive of Telenor R&D, said in a statement. "We expect great results from combining an open ecosystem for content providers with user-friendly services directly on the home screen of the terminals."

In other news, Opera, based in Oslo, Norway, also announced a new partnership with mobile device content provider Freedom Media to produce wireless Web applications, known as widgets, which deliver specific information to end users devices.

As with the widget tools recently introduced by Opera in its desktop browser, the applications development platform is meant to allow for the creation of AJAX-based programs that forward certain information, such as news or weather, directly to users browsers.

Dubbed "Freedom," the joint application promises a collection of mobile pay-per-view technologies designed to help wireless carriers build their own wireless multimedia content services.

/zimages/6/28571.gifClick here to read more about Operas plans to add widgets and BitTorrent support to its next browser iteration.

The companies said they created the new services template using the browser makers Opera Platform mobile AJAX authoring environment, a beta version of which was released to the public in late 2005.

Freedom will be pre-installed on several Nokia phones offered in the Norwegian market, and it will also be available as a free download for Norwegian Nokia S60 handhelds.

On the desktop side of its business, the browser maker has begun distributing weekly software code builds for its upcoming Opera 9 browser, due out before the end of 2006. The builds are hosted on a blog on the companys Web site.

Opera developer Johan Borg said he would be updating the page each week with any additions or alterations to the browsers beta code in order to "further open up" the companys development process to its users.

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