A couple of days ago, Opera announced that it had submitted Opera Mini to the Apple App Store. Opera is one of the stalwarts of the browser industry having been released back in 1996 and now up to Version 10.
According to the announcement, Opera Mini loads webpages up to six times faster than Safari but this seems to be largely achieved by a proxy server of sorts performing compression on the content before transmission to the iPhone. Personally, I’m not a huge fan of these services especially when using a mobile provider that also has its own transparent proxy that is not 100% rock solid. It would also give Opera an opportunity to learn about the browsing habits of its users which may or may not be disclosed in the license agreement for the software.
On the flip side, reduced processing on the handset to render pages could improve battery life and that could be a key point for those of us that go places without a power point handy.
I’m all for browser competition and differentiation. On the desktop, we see quite a diverse range of browsers that have strengths and weaknesses. For smartphones, it’s a little bit of a different story. Windows Mobile handsets have had some choice (again, with Opera making an appearance and an alpha build of Firefox) but most other handsets have had to make do with the bundled browser with varying mileage.
If Opera Mini is approved for the iPhone, I’ll grab a copy and share my thoughts.