Opera Mini for iPhone Passes Million-Download Mark

Opera announced that more than one million Apple mobile device users had downloaded Opera Mini for iPhone by April 15, top-ranking the application in Apple's App Store. Opera Mini for iPhone is identical to the company's mobile browser available on other smartphone platforms, and is built to emphasize fast-loading pages. Previous to Apple's acceptance of the browser into the App Store, Opera co-founder Jon von Tetzschner told eWEEK that he was confident that Opera Mini for the iPhone would be accepted without reservations. He also suggested at the time that Opera desktop and mobile browsers are used by between 120 million and 150 million people worldwide.

Opera Mini for iPhone has been downloaded onto more than one million Apple devices, according to an April 15 press release by Opera, making it the top-ranked mobile application in Apple's App Store. The app was originally released on April 13.

Opera had originally submitted the free, iPhone-centric version of its mobile browser to Apple on March 23, following its reveal of the application at a variety of conferences and festivals including SXSW and Mobile World Congress. Opera Mini for iPhone compensates for the smartphone's lack of multitasking-at least until the next version of the iPhone's operating system comes out-by allowing users to return to their last-accessed Web page after exiting and then re-starting the browser.

Additionally, Opera Mini for iPhone lacks Adobe Flash support for loading rich content from certain Websites, a decision that Opera executives have said was in the interest of loading Web pages quickly.

"Today iPhone users have a choice, and, as the numbers show, they are eager to explore new and faster ways to surf the Web on the iPhone-especially during heavy Web traffic," Lars Boilesen, CEO of Opera, wrote in an April 15 statement. "With any widely available and frequently downloaded Opera product, we are appreciative of all the feedback we are getting, as it helps us to continually improve our product and better meet the needs of our users."

In March, Opera co-founder Jon von Tetzschner told eWEEK that he expected Opera Mini for the iPhone to be accepted into Apple's App Store without reservations.

"Our expectation is that Apple will allow it," von Tetzschner said. "Why will they block ours?"

Posting Opera Mini as a free mobile app was the only way to disseminate the browser to as many iPhone users as possible, he said, because posting it on Opera's site would have only made it available for jailbroken iPhones.

Opera Mini for iPhone greatly resembles the versions of the browser available for other smartphones. Common features across all those versions include tabbed browsing, a focus on increased speed and 90 percent data compression. Opera has focused lately on spreading to as many smartphone platforms as possible, with March seeing the release of a beta of Opera Mini 5 for Google Android, Windows Mobile 5.x and 6.x smartphones.

Von Tetzschner claimed in his interview with eWEEK that Opera's desktop-based and mobile browsers have between 120 and 150 million active users worldwide, a number extrapolated from data on Opera's servers. The browsers' strongest base, apparently, exists in Central and Eastern Europe, Africa and Asia; a geographical orientation, von Tetzschner suggested, that led to Opera being undercounted by analysis firms that take the majority of their browser market-share sampling from Western Europe and North America.

Whatever its actual number of users, though, Opera can now count an additional million thanks to Apple's mobile devices.