​Why Samsung, Xiaomi plus 12 Android smartphone brands are shipping with Opera Max

Browser maker Opera reckons a new tie-up for data-saving Opera Max with 14 OEMs in emerging markets will deliver it 100 million users by 2017.

Samsung is among 14 smartphone makers lining up to ship with Opera Max, which is designed to make data savings. Image: Samsung

Norwegian browser maker Opera has struck agreements with 14 Android smartphone makers including Samsung and Xiaomi to embed its data-saving Opera Max app on new devices.

Opera now expects its Max app will have shipped with 100 million Android smartphones by 2017, thanks to the new deals.

Other well-known companies on board with Opera besides the two largest Android smartphone brands include Acer, Hisense, and Oppo. It also has deals with a handful of regional brands in emerging markets, such as Cherry Mobile, Evercoss, Fly, Micromax, Mobiistar, Prestigio, Symphony, Tecno, and TWZ.

Opera launched its data-saving app in August to reduce mobile data consumption when watching videos and streaming music, as well as to block apps that consume data in the background.

Given Opera's other businesses include a mobile ad network, it's not surprising the app doesn't offer to block ads.

With fewer than five million installs from Google Play today, Opera Max is less popular than its better-established Opera Mini browser, which also offers a data-saving feature.

Opera promotes its Opera Max app within the Mini browser's dashboard, which displays data savings. The key promise is that it will save data used by other apps, such as Vine, Vimeo, and Chrome, rather than just for content viewed through the Mini browser.

Opera says the Max app reduces data consumption from most Android apps by up to 50 percent, and up to 60 percent for heavy users of Instagram, YouTube, and Netflix.

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"Many users are wary of using mobile data for fear of spending too much or exceeding their data caps. We see OEMs responding to this and stepping up to lower the barrier to mobile internet access by providing a data-optimization solution on their devices," Opera Max head of product Sergey Lossev said.

Although Opera Max is available as a distinct app, the other way it's appearing in Android smartphones is by supporting existing built-in data-saving features.

For example, the Norwegian company teamed up with Samsung researchers in India to deliver the Galaxy J2 'ultra data-saving' feature, which is integrated with Opera's Max technology.

As Google and Facebook ramp up efforts to grow emerging markets through connectivity projects such as Loon and Internet.org, Opera sees its data-compression technology as a key component of bringing the next billion internet users online.

Opera is scheduled to report its third quarter 2015 earnings tomorrow, its first update since flagging a strategic review of its business and a possible sale.

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