Opera-Based Smart Phones Headed to China

The Oslo firm says its browser will bring mobile phone users back to the Web.

Opera Software ASA hopes the fat lady is singing for WAP.

According to the Norwegian developer, its full-function Opera 7 browser for smart phones will be introduced into the potentially lucrative Chinese market by Kyocera. This signals a significant marketing win for Opera. Kyocera, which purchased Qualcomms handset manufacturing business, will employ Opera in its ZTE V91 handset for the Chinese market.

Unlike the poorly received WAP (Wireless Application Protocol) and WAP 2.0 (a.k.a. xHTML) browsers used in many smart phones, the Opera browser allows users to view standard HTML Web sites (what the company calls "street HTML" sites). The browser thus gives users full Web access, relying on what Opera dubs its Small-Screen Rendering (SSR) technology. SSR attempts to eliminate the problem of viewing large Web pages on a small LCD screen by reformatting sites to fit on handheld displays. In particular, its designed to eliminate the back and forth horizontal scrolling otherwise required to read sentences across a page.

Of course, in China most users will be viewing characters, and lots of them, hopes Opera. The company is touting its fully functional browser as a way to entice users to surf the Web on their phones. The pitch to carriers and handset makers is that the browser will increase the ARPU or Average Revenue Per User. In other words, more surfing means more air time, which means more money for carriers.

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