Opera Mini on the iPhone? Good Luck (and I Mean That Sincerely)

By  |  Wednesday, February 10, 2010 at 8:30 am

Norwegian browser company Opera, which has been talking about an iPhone version since 2008, is no longer just talking. It says that it will demonstrate an iPhone edition of its Opera Mini phone browser next week at the Mobile World Congress show in Barcelona. And that’s all it’s said so far.

Opera seems to be following the increasingly common strategy of publicly announcing it’s working on something interesting for the iPhone in hopes of making of more difficult for Apple to reject the program once it’s submitted. But if Apple did approve an alternative browser such as Opera Mini, it would be startling–it presumably incorporates a JavaScript interpreter, and that interpreter presumably violates a clause in the iPhone developer agreement that prohibits apps from including interpreters of any sort.

I hope, however, that Opera does submit Opera Mini, and that Apple startles us all by accepting it. The single most disturbing thing about the restrictions that Apple puts on iPhone developers is their tendency to eliminate applications that compete with Apple’s own software–it’s bad for iPhone owners. And ultimately it might be bad for Apple, if it tends to leave the company more complacent than if Safari and other programs faced competition on the iPhone itself.

Does the world need Opera Mini for the iPhone? Maybe: Mini is a fine basic browser on other phones, and it compresses Web pages on the server side in order to deliver the fastest possible rendering on the phone. Which might make it particularly useful when the best speed you can get out of AT&T’s network is pokey EDGE. Whatever Mini is, it isn’t a boring, pointless knockoff of Safari…

 
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6 Comments For This Post

  1. SamF Says:

    “A boring, pointless knockoff of Safari …,” you mean like Chrome?

  2. Chip Says:

    Harry,

    You say that Opera shrinks the pages on the server side for fast browsing.

    So … what happens if I double-tap, wanting the screen to enlarge?

    Any idea how that would work?

  3. Marc Says:

    Maybe users should be presented with a choice of which browser they want to use upon their purchase of a new iPhone ? ;)

    Seriously though, good luck to them – but unless you can set it as the default, then it’s pointless, about as useful as having a separate application to search Bing (it seems quicker to save bing.com as a bookmark to me).

    Personally, I’d rather see Flash (no matter what browser hosts it), just so I can watch the BBC News channel.

  4. TehSawd Says:

    SamF, when he says it’s not another pointless knock off of Safari he means that there are other browser apps on the store but they are all based off Safari.

  5. Elk Says:

    [quote]it presumably incorporates a JavaScript interpreter[/quote]

    No, it doesn’t; Opera Mini renders pages on the server (including limited javascript) and then sends the rendered page in their own binary format to the client, so they don’t have a javascript interpreter in the phone. It’s on their servers.

  6. Ziyad Dadabhoy Says:

    @Chip
    Well Opera Mini is on many other phones and when you zoom it zooms. like any other mobile browser.

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