I too didn’t care much about the mobile browsers till recent times. I was using blackberry’s built in browser earlier, when I was using a bb. Eventually, my need for mobile browsing came down heavily as I was not on the move much. So I discontinued blackberry and shifted to a cheaper phone. Recently I had an opportunity of learning a bit more about mobile browsers, from none other than the leaders in the space- Opera Software.
Unless you’re a geek, you might not have used Opera’s web browser on your desktop/notebook. But then, you would have heard of Opera Mini browser for mobile phones. Opera Mini is a popular mobile browser you should try if you haven’t.
There’re two prime reasons why it is worth using Opera Mini. First and foremost reason is its ability to compress data and thereby saving money on internet bill. Native browsers download a web page as it is. (opening facebook.com consumes 450-600KB under normal circumstances). Just calculate the amount you’ll have to cough up for this kind of usage. Opera mini compresses the site heavily (under 100kb for facebook.com). Compression happens at Opera’s server side and hence the pages load faster, consume less data and thus you pay less. The savings may not be significant if you have an unlimited package back home, but they are phenomenal if you’re on international roaming. You won’t have to spend a bomb just to locate nearest ATM or restaurant. Browser comes with a meter which tells us how much data is compressed.
The secondary advantage of faster browser is reduced usage of your phone’s processor and thereby longer battery life. Most of the smartphones consume lot of power and can’t survive for couple of days without recharge. While on travel, you don’t want your smart phone to go dry by noon.
Opera mini is platform independent. It will work on your BB, iPhone, android and even the java based mobiles. I tried Opera mini on my Samsung phone, it appeared to be well organized. Saving a page, bookmarking etc were easier than what I was used to in the blackberry.
Unless facebook or google, opera doesn’t capture your personal data for commercial exploitation. User needn’t sign in to use a browser, so Opera won’t know your age, gender, email ID and half a dozen other things which you’d disclose to other browsers/apps when you register and sign in. Opera’s advertising will be based on location and devise alone. Also opera doesn’t have any motive to keep you restricted into specific platform etc.
Opera is a Oslo (Norway) based company and has a presence in India. They are taking feedback from Indian users and will incorporate into the product as appropriate. I had a big question how browser companies make money. (For Microsoft or Google browsers needn’t make money, since they serve as a platform for other services offered by these giants. But opera software is focused primarily on browser and their revenue comes from advertising and partnerships. Opera is also setting up an app store. At present mobile internet market may not be too matured and profitable, but in the years to come, internet on mobile could be the prime source of connectivity. With a strong foundation, Opera appears to be well positioned to cater the market as it grows. Lots of smartphones now come with Opera mini pre-installed, operators like Airtel have tied up with Opera for mutual benefits.