i’m an opera user now

Opera has snagged a new user. These days I’m spending almost as much time on Opera as I do on Firefox. Why the change, you might wonder…

Mozilla has a gap in its product line that Opera not only fills, but does so excellently. I’m talking of course about the mobile phone/PDA web browser segment. As 3G and GPRS networks are becoming more and more commonly used, web browsing on mobile devices is become commonplace. Yet, Opera has a virtual monopoly on the Symbian OS web browser market.

Not that I’m complaining, their Opera 6.10 for Symbian OS (which came free with my Nokia 6600), and Opera 6.20 which I downloaded (also free for my phone model) are both amazing. They render websites designed for normal computers in a very readable format, thank’s to Opera’s Small-Screen Rendering technology. At the same time, if I want, I can view them exactly as they’d render on a normal sized PC, and am able to scroll left and right to do so.

As if this wasn’t enough, Opera has figured out how to turn their mobile web browser (optionally) into a subscription product without shafting the user and delivering no value for lots of money. Opera’s Mobile Accelerator is a proxy server hosted by Opera which strips (X)HTML content of elements that Opera can’t render, compresses images to much smaller sizes (who needs high-res on a 2″ screen?), and optimises the page so it renders quickly on low bandwidth connections. This is pretty smart, and it seems to work well too. I’m still in my 14-day trial period, but I’ve already decided that I’m going to purchase the service when those 14 days are up. At USD13 per 3 months, it’s very reasonably priced too. This is especially cool for those users who have metered bandwidth on their GPRS connection. Luckily in Beijing I’ve been able to get unlimited GPRS for around USD25 per month. But I think even the fast pageloads make this worth it, because GPRS isn’t exactly a speed demon to begin with.

So Opera has picked up a new and very satisfied user. I’m of course still very partial to Firefox on regular PCs. However, now that I’ve entered the consumer marketplace for mobile web browsers, it’s clear to me that Opera is the only company who has any real product aimed at this market. Luckily, they’ve still managed to innovate and put out a great product.

What does this mean for Mozilla? My reading of the situation is that Mozilla has a gap in it’s product line. Mozilla has an excellent, mature, cross-platform rendering engine in Gecko. Mozilla has talented FE developers. I think it’s time that Mozilla once again pioneered it’s way into uncharted territory.

UPDATE: It’s been pointed out that the Minimo project exists to fill this void, but after looking at its site, it still looks very much in its infancy. It also looks like nobody is working on it anymore. Maybe it would be a good idea to revive it and somehow gauge OEM interest in a Gecko/Minimo-based browser. One thing to note is that the Minimo project appears to have rather heavy hardware requirements. It’s targeted at machines that have 32-64MB of RAM. My Nokia, for example, has only 8MB of RAM (total, not free) and a lowly 104MHz ARM9 processor. There’s a pretty large gap between Minimo’s target requirements and the mobile hardware that’s out there today.

UPDATE 2: You can see my response to Daniel Glazman’s post about Planet syndication in the comments section of his post. Nothing personal against Daniel, I just felt it deserved a response from me.

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16 Responses to i’m an opera user now

  1. Pete says:

    Google for Minimo 🙂

  2. Sebastian Moser says:

    @pete
    mozilla is far behind, that’s the problem… 😉

    probably it would be a great way to get money for the foundation, by providing a similar service like the mobile accellerator, but not aimed at generating profits.

  3. Does Mozilla need a mobile version?

    Ali Ebrahim: “Now that I’ve entered the consumer marketplace for mobile web browsers, it’s clear to me that Opera is the only company who has any real product aimed at this market. […] What does this mean for Mozilla? My reading of the situation i…

  4. Pete says:

    Sebastian, having looked at Minimo further, it sure is quite far behind. 🙂 0.1, and only on Linux devices. I guess it’s a start though.

    It’s a shame Opera doesn’t run on Pocket PC – NetFront and Pocket IE are both fairly dire. I understand it’s because the Opera guys are strongly against supporting MS and Pocket PC since they don’t exactly see eye to eye on things. Quite a shame since my experience with their small screen rendering system has been very positive indeed.

  5. Asa Dotzler says:

    Actually, Minimo is pretty darned functional and is being actively developed.

    –Asa

  6. Ali Ebrahim says:

    That’s good to know Asa. I’m looking forward to seeing the results.

  7. Mine says:

    Nokia, wich is fighting to regain market share, invested in Mozilla some time ago…. http://news.com.com/Nokia+cash+boosts+Mozilla/2100-7344_3-5236730.html I think this should grant Minimo development workin on 😉

  8. anonymous says:

    > Actually, Minimo is pretty darned functional and is being actively developed.

    Do you have a bonsai query for Minomo?

  9. Fareed Rizkalla says:

    it’s really very irritating, that your post has appeared on mozilla, and it was done intentionally by you

  10. Ali Ebrahim says:

    Fareed, first of all my intent of writing this point was not to deface the http://www.mozilla.org page in any way. Second, if you actually bothered to READ the post, you’ll see that my post was really about gaps in Mozilla’s product line, and about how other companies are filling those gaps. I think that’s perfectly legitimate and no one is going to extract an apology from me for writing it.

    If Planet is going to be syndicated on http://www.mozilla.org unmoderated, then much worse stuff can make its way (and already has) onto the http://www.mozilla.org home page. Syndicating personal blogs to a corporate/high-profile website is always dangerous.

    For my own part, I have a Mozilla category feed which gets syndicated. I’ve done this so that my posts which are unrelated to Mozilla don’t get picked up and clutter Planet and http://www.mozilla.org. I certainly post things which are inappropriate for viewing on http://www.mozilla.org, but I make sure that those posts don’t get syndicated there.

    Also, I think its really very irratating that you come here to my blog, and then start complaining when you have no base to complain upon. Your claim that I was intentionally defacing the Mozilla claim is insulting, and you may want to consider filtering your raw thoughts through your mind before posting on this blog again.

  11. esben buchwald says:

    I agree, the Opera browser for symbian is really nice…

    but the problem is that the one provided with the nokia 6600 is a trial that expires after about 2 months… and i think it’s quite expensive to register it… so i’m kind of disappointed that an open source project like mozilla don’t provide a symbian browser…

  12. Ali Ebrahim says:

    The copy of Opera that was provided with my phone was completely free. I will not have to pay to continue using it. Strange that your’s isn’t. Maybe they have different licensing agreements in different parts of the world, or you bought yours before they came to that agreement. In any case, you might want to try downloading the version for the 6600 here:

    http://www.opera.com/download/?platform=symbian&man=Nokia

    Maybe it will detect that you’re running on the 6600 and give you the correct free version.

  13. Could you please remove the “XX Comments | X Trackbacks” part from your RSS/whatever feed? Every time you get a new comment (like now) or a new trackback, my RSS reader marks it as unread, because the contents of the post changed.

    And of course, it didn’t.

  14. Ali Ebrahim says:

    Vidar, it should be fixed.

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