Opera Bulks Up Mobile Mini Browser

Opera Software is singing a new tune with its updated Mini 3.0 browser, released on Tuesday. It brings photo sharing and social networking functionality to the Norwegian company’s free mobile phone mini browser.

Despite its struggles in the desktop Web-browser market, Opera has succeeded with its mobile browser, which it says is used by 8 million people worldwide.

Opera’s technology — which also features enhanced RSS capability and e-commerce functionality in Opera Mini 3.0 — relies on remote servers that compress and “fold”Internet sites and content so that they can be viewed and navigated on mainstream mobile phones.

The company has “shown that even a basic feature phone can do tasks previously thought the realm of only smartphones,” JupiterResearchVice President Michael Gartenberg told TechNewsWorld. “They’ve done a very impressive job.”

Friendly Functionality

Opera Mini 3.0 features enhance its social networking capability with a range of community sites, including MySpace, Blogger, Flickr, Facebook and others, the company said.

In addition to supporting Hotmail, Gmail and Yahooe-mail systems, the product works with secure Internet connections for online banking, shopping and other secure transactions, the company added.

“I think the main reason for Mini’s success is that it, for the first time, allows millions of people to use their mobile phones to access the same Web sites they do from their desktop,” said Opera CEO Jon von Tetzchner.

Applying the Browser

Opera is executing the rightstrategy by taking its mobile browsing experience beyond just Web surfing and e-mail, DataComm President Ira Brodsky told TechNewsWorld.

“I think that finding some major application and applying the browser is the way to go,” he said. However, monetizing such an application may be much more difficult than getting the technology side just right.

Opera, which offers its mobile browser as a free download, generates revenue from advertising and partnerships with Google and other firms. In addition, the company is looking to partner with handset and other device makers that would pre-install the browser in cell phones.

Calling All Consumers

Opera has done a good job of improving the mobile browser experience, but its software is still largely unknown to most mobile phone owners — even though it is compatible with most Java-enabled phones, claimed Gartenberg.

“The challenge is making sure this technology is exposed to users,” he said.

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