Opera for iPhone: Does It Matter?

by Albert Wan Apr 16, 2010

When Opera Mini was approved for sale on the App Store earlier this week, it was as if pigs were flying or hell freezing over. An app that clearly "duplicates features that come with the iPhone" is now ranked number one on all iTunes stores across the world.

Users clearly want choice. Apple approving Opera Mini earlier this week displays that it takes the iPhone OS seriously and wants it comparable to Mac OS X without the openness Mac OS X provides at the moment. By having a competing browser to Safari, the iPhone platform is maturing and becoming a more legitimate platform than before. Other desktop browsers, such as Firefox or Chrome (Internet Explorer anyone?) could possibly make its way to the App Store in the near future.

Another viewpoint to Apple approving Opera mini is that it wanted to avoid a PR nightmare. Opera has heavily publicized that it was developing an iPhone app for months, and Apple rejecting the app would have created a massive talkback from the blogosphere. Given that Apple also hasn't been playing nicely with any other tech company recently (Google and Adobe in particular), rejecting Opera for the same reasons as Google Voice would create a poor reputation on Apple, one that essentially confirms that Apple's iPhone OS is, and will remain, closed and under Apple's rules.

However, even such a statement is contradictory given the App Store's record, leaving many to believe that Opera Mini's approval for the iPhone is nothing but a heavily publicized browser release and will not matter in the long run. Other apps currently on the App Store that replicate a feature on the iPhone (Yahoo Finance, AccuWeather, and iTalk are just some of the examples), were approved without question and with very little fanfare. Even some browsers currently on the App Store that utilize the MobileSafari engine are allowed and approved without question on the App Store. Opera Mini merely joins the list of the apps that duplicate one of the default app's features.

But, should Opera mini actually become successful and become iPhone users's primary browser of choice, Apple clearly has a problem on their hands. When Steve Jobs presents iPhone usage data over a certain timeframe in his keynotes, one of the main sources of data is browser market share. Since the iPhone has had one browser during Apple keynotes in the past, the easiest way to report iPhone usage was to report Mobile Safari's market share, well over 50% in some statistics. With Opera mini now a player in the iPhone browser market, it'll take away some of Safari's market share, thus leaving unfavorable and somewhat inaccurate data to report in keynotes and product announcements.

Both browsers, when combined together into one app, provide a great user experience; however, when separated as they are now each has its own flaws. Do you believe Opera mini will change the Internet browsing experience on the iPhone overall?


  • I downloaded Opera Mini last night and tested it out for a few minutes. It definitely contains features that need to be put into Safari, especially when it comes to Safari on the iPad. Opera’s tap feature and full page view bring a better user experience to browsing on the iPhone. However, I don’t see this 3rd party app shifting enough users away from Safari. Mainly because Safari is the default app that other apps will link to. Secondly, many users simply don’t get involved enough with their iPhone to learn about alternatives to many of Apple‘s default apps.  I mean seriously, my sister-in-law’s husband has had his iPhone for several months now and he still doesn’t know how to copy and paste.

    On the contrary, the best thing about many these third-party coming online is that challenges Apple to include more features in its future updates. For those of us who want t take advantage of advance features, we seek them and use them, while most users are content with the basic stuff.

    Bakari Chavanu had this to say on Apr 16, 2010 Posts: 47
  • Most users wouldn’t be bothered. Opera mini only appeal to geeks and Apple haters.

    AdamC had this to say on Apr 19, 2010 Posts: 3
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