Opera: Mini leads cross-platform charge

Browser maker says Opera's reach extended to include devices such as games devices and in-flight entertainment systems, where over 35.6 million people use Opera Mini.
Written by Liau Yun Qing, Contributor
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SINGAPORE--Norwegian browser maker Opera Software says it wants to be platform agnostic and enable all devices to communicate with one another.

"Opera started off as a PC browser developer but we [later] decided to move our browser core to other devices as well," James Wei, Opera's Asia-Pacific president, said Monday during a meeting with local media. "Opera wants to be platform independent."

The company, he said, has since extended the reach of its browser to devices such as mobile phones, games devices, in-flight entertainment systems and television.

According to Wei, the mobile platform is leading the way, where over 35.6 million people used Opera Mini in September 2009, up 11.5 percent from the previous month and 150 percent the year before.

Asked whether Opera will be focusing mainly on the mobile platform, he said the browser was built for desktops, too.

"Opera was not a latecomer to the browser scene but Internet Explorer (IE) became more popular due to Microsoft Windows," he added, noting that Microsoft ships its Web browser together with their Windows operating system.

"We've always been fighting with Microsoft [regarding the browser-OS bundle], but the good news [is that] people in Europe now get to choose which [PC] browser they want," said Wei.

The European Commission concluded in January that Microsoft was violating antitrust laws by not including other browsers along with Windows operating systems. In the next five years, PC users in Europe running IE as their default browser will receive a ballot screen that allows them to download and install other browsers.

Opera's communications manager Peko Wong also noted that Opera's market share in countries such as Russia, Ukraine and Belarus, "exceeds Microsoft's IE". She explained that most users in these markets have slow network connection and are on dial-up connection. For them, Opera presents an easier download because the browser is supported by Opera Turbo, a compression engine that compresses data to speed up data transfer and reduce the amount of data that needs to be downloaded, Wong said.

Executives here also reiterated the company's vision of the next Internet wave, Web 3.0, where "devices can start talking to each other". Key to its plans is a new browser-based collaboration service and platform the company calls, Opera Unite, which that turns the device into a Web server. This, the company said, will enable users to access and share files and data, including images and music, without the need for "third-party servers".

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