Opera goes big on Mini in Asia

Work is already underway to ensure its latest mobile Web browser meets the needs of Japanese BREW users, a company official says.

A clarification was made to this story. Read below for details.

clarification Norwegian Opera Software is upbeat about the prospects of its latest mobile Web browser in Asia, says a company spokesperson.

Launched globally on Tuesday, the Opera Mini browser works on any mobile device that supports Java including mobile phones, smartphones and handhelds. The worldwide launch follows trials that were conducted in Germany and the Nordics in the fourth quarter of last year.

Eskil Sivertsen, a company spokesperson, told ZDNet Asia in an e-mail that although the Web browser company did not conduct a trial in Asia, it did "silently lift the geographical restrictions in late December".

User response has been positive, Sivertsen noted. "We've received feedback from all over the world including Asia, and in general, people are very enthusiastic about [Opera Mini]. Some Japanese users have asked for a BREW version, and rightly so," he said.

BREW (Binary Runtime Environment for Wireless), Qualcomm's platform, is important because of "the relatively high number" of BREW devices in Japan, Sivertsen explained.

"To ensure success in Japan, there is no doubt we need a BREW version of Opera Mini," he said. Although there are no concrete development plans at this point, Sivertsen added: "I think when we have that in place, Opera Mini has great potential in Japan where there are advanced mobile phone users."

Sivertsen said that Opera is also hoping to reach out to other large Asian mobile phone markets, namely China and Korea. "I don't dare to predict anything at this point but judging from the feedback we are getting, Opera Mini has great potential," he added.

Today, mobile phone users can browse Chinese, Japanese and Korean Web pages with the current Opera Mini version. "The user interface translations [of Opera Mini's menu] will be available [in those Asian languages] later; we are working on it," said Sivertsen.

In Asia, Opera has offices in Japan and China, and presence in Taiwan. "We are looking to expand, and both Taiwan and Korea are natural choices," said Sivertsen.

Opera Mini is available for free via WAP (Wireless Application Protocol) download from Opera's Web site, or for a small fee via SMS (short message service).

Clarification: Opera's Eskil Sivertsen has clarified that the company is looking into developing a BREW version of the Opera Mini browser but has no concrete plans yet. In addition, Opera is working on the user interface translations of the Mini browser's menu.