Norwegian software maker Opera is mounting pressure on Apple’s tight-fisted App store, in the hope its iPhone Web browser will get approved. Opera announced on Wednesday it would launch a version of its Mini browser for the iPhone next week, which will offer faster download speeds.
At the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, next week, Opera said it would demo the iPhone version of the Mini Web browser. The company claims its software is up to six times faster than Safari on the iPhone and iPod touch, due to the compression technology used in the background.
Opera also claims the mini browser for the iPhone can cut data traffic by up to 90 percent, which could relief wireless carriers from high iPhone traffic strain on their networks. This is achieved by compressing text and images on Opera’s servers before they reach the end users’ device.
A Troubled History
Rough waters could wait ahead for Opera Mini on the iPhone: the company said it has yet to submit its app for approval in the App Store, which has a history of rejecting applications that duplicate functionality of native iPhone apps.
With this premature announcement, Opera hopes to sway Apple into approving its iPhone app, but we are yet to see how Apple will react. Google’s Voice app didn’t make it on the iPhone because Apple claims it duplicates functionality of the native software.
Even FCC intervention didn’t achieve much to bringing Google Voice on the iPhone. And as Opera Mini for the iPhone basically duplicates functionality of the native Safari browser, chances are we are going to see a similar debate.
More Reasons to Fear Opera
Besides duplicate functionality, Opera’s mobile browser is also the biggest competitor to Safari mobile. Latest figures from StatCounter show that Opera is the largest player in the mobile browser market with over 25 percent share, closely followed by Safari on iPhone and iPod touch with just over 22 percent.
Allowing Opera on the iPhone would mean that the gap between the Norwegian browser and Safari mobile could widen further, something that Apple surely doesn’t want to happen.
Yet this is a very bold move from Opera. The company is forcing Apple’s hand at approving its browser, something that its bigger brother, Mozilla’s Firefox, didn’t even bother to try with its Fennec mobile browser.