Opera Mini Official Launch

Opera launched its free Opera Mini (website, campaign home) browser yesterday. They have been aggressively focusing on the mobile market and is growing rapidly from a trial base of over a million users. Here are some fast facts:

-The browser: 50-100KB in size, supports J2ME (Java 2 micro edition) MIDP (mobile information device profile) 1.0 and 2.0 (The normal Opera Mobile browser, in contrast, has a footprint of 1-2MB).

Tech: Compressing Web pages by up to 80%. Opera Mini browser works through proxy servers that are currently hosted by Opera. The proxies translate Web pages into OBML (Opera Binary Markup Language) before sending them to the phone. OBML includes compressed images, and eliminates the need for the Opera Mini client to do error handling — since HTML is not a parsed variant of SGML, much of a normal browser’s workload involves handling non-well-formed HTML. The scheme compresses Web pages by up to 80 percent, according to Opera, resulting in both faster browsing and “dramatically reduced” data transfer charges.

Sample small screen rendering (SSR):

(left image – other browsers’ page rendering, right image – Opera’s SSR)

Support for AJAX, XML, Linux and embedded devices: Opera Executive VP Scott Hedrick: “We are already engaged in projects with many leading global brands to deliver Opera in new IPTV set-top box deployments, networked TVs, VoIP screen phones, and other entertainment devices.”

Opera says customers currently shipping devices with Opera browsers include NDS, Amino, Archos, Nokia, Thales, and Canal Satellite. Those shipping Opera-equipped mobile phones include Motorola, Nokia, Sony Ericsson, and Sharp.

-Competition: Meantime, Access, (acquired device OS and middleware vendor PalmSoft late last year) collaborates with partners towards 3G handset development and multimedia platforms for embedded devices while open source Mini-Mozilla or MiniMo, which received funding from Nokia, released MinoMo CE .012 last March 2005.

Have yet to try and surf the net through the browser. Opera’s technology means great news for users and internet companies in terms of cheaper data transfer rates and wider information access. With such better browsers in place, it looks like the transition from WAP to web browser may really happen in the next few years. More internet companies can make their way into the mobile market now, especially with the lesser effort needed for major reformatting of their websites to fit the mobile due to Opera’s SSR technology.

Discussion at Slashdot here.


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