Opera Mini Is Fighting For Relevancy

By Chris Josephes
March 26, 2010 | Comments: 3

Three days ago, the Opera Mini app was submitted to Apple for approval. To be accurate, it was submitted 3 days, 1 hour, 16 minutes, and you get the idea. Opera has turned their application submission into a media event. By using a timer, Opera places the onus squarely on the shoulders of Apple. If Apple approves the application, Opera is happy. If the application is not approved, or if the approval is slow, Opera has a scapegoat to shift the blame.

I wish them luck with their submission, but I admit I have strong doubts. To be blunt, Opera Mini is a stop-gap solution for a series of problems that will eventually disappear.

For those that don't know, Opera Mini is a web browser that forces all traffic through a set of proxy servers maintained by Opera. Those servers perform fancy tricks like re-sizing images, and sending content to the browser through a single encrypted HTTP connection. So when you want to browse to CNN.com, you're actually connecting to Opera's proxy server which gives you a compressed and modified version of CNN that looks good on Opera. The whole rationale behind Opera Mini's design is to overcome problems found in mobile and wireless networks.

Mini has good intentions, but the product is attempting to take ownership of problems that are outside of its control. Any bandwidth problems with mobile networks will eventually be resolved by the wireless carriers. At the same time web developers are fixing their web sites, and caching technologies like Akamai are reducing the latency in serving those sites. Opera Mini's success depends on carriers, developers, and technology companies ignoring the importance of the mobile web market; but nobody is ignoring the mobile web by a long shot.

On the other hand, Safari on the iPhone changed the mobile web marketplace by delivering real web pages to a mobile device. No, it's not 100% perfect, but the shortfalls of the wireless web aren't necessarily the fault with the browser. If an iPhone user experiences slow performance with Safari, they'll probably experience the same performance problems with Mail, Four Square, or other wireless applications. Now Opera Mini wants to jump into the scene by saying, "The technology you've been using for three years is slow and cumbersome, so use us instead."

As a sales argument, that's not going to work. The average consumers will never download Opera on their iPhone, just like they never downloaded Opera for their Windows PC. Meanwhile, technology enthusiasts will recognize the shortfalls of Opera Mini, and they will probably avoid it as well.

So what market does that leave for Opera Mini?


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3 Comments

look im no technical expert, but i can truly say Opera Mini Has bin one of the best thing happen to my mobile phone, its what i am right now to keep intouch with the world. and its free. im living in a third world country where data or internet service is expensive so we gave welcome the mini very much.

Even on a 20 Mbit wlan, opera mini is a lot faster than safari. 4G takes years, even then opera might do good. Why not compress pages?

What a poorly researched article.

"Fighting for relevancy?" Opera is the dominant mobile browser! The user base is growing exponentially!

If the application is not approved, or if the approval is slow, Opera has a scapegoat to shift the blame.

I don't get it. The blame for what, exactly?

To be blunt, Opera Mini is a stop-gap solution for a series of problems that will eventually disappear.

Where "eventually" could be several decades. Maybe it will be resolved in major cities, but most of the world will still be on crappier connections.

Opera Mini will be a solution for decades to come. And FYI, Opera Mini is not the only product Opera has.

At the same time web developers are fixing their web sites, and caching technologies like Akamai are reducing the latency in serving those sites.

Except it can't compete with Opera's 90% compression. And it has a completely different purpose.

Opera Mini's success depends on carriers, developers, and technology companies ignoring the importance of the mobile web market

Whatever gave you the idea that Opera is ignoring the importance of the mobile web market? Opera talked about its importance before anyone else!

Considering that Opera predicted the mobile web explosion long before anyone else even considered it (everyone was rooting for WAP), I'd say they know exactly what they are doing.

On the other hand, Safari on the iPhone changed the mobile web marketplace by delivering real web pages to a mobile device.

Wow, welcome to the previous millennium! Opera had been doing it for many years already when the iPhone came out.

Now Opera Mini wants to jump into the scene by saying, "The technology you've been using for three years is slow and cumbersome, so use us instead."

Opera Mini has been around for longer than the iPhone. It is not jumping into the scene. It has been there all along. And it's the dominant mobile browser!

The average consumers will never download Opera on their iPhone

Guess what, Opera set a new record, and reached one million downloads faster than any other iPhone app before it.

So what market does that leave for Opera Mini?

Considering that Opera is the dominant mobile browser, and leading carriers around the world are embracing it, I'd say it leaves a huge market for Opera Mini.

Come on, shouldn't you at least educate yourself about the products and companies you are talking about?

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