The latest edition of Opera’s State of the Mobile Web report is out, and this time the focus is squarely on India — Android users in India to be more specific. Android is making its presence felt in India thanks to the multitude of affordable Android smartphones, some of which available for less than $70. The availability of cheap smartphones, combined with the dearth of cheap and fast internet connection makes Indians the ideal demographic for Opera Mini, which reduces page load times as well as bandwidth consumption thanks to its compression technology. Unsurprisingly, India is home to the largest number of Opera Mini users in the world. Over the last year, Opera Mini users on smartphones in India increased by 136.6%, constituting 19% of the total Opera Mini users in India.
The most popular categories of websites in India are social networks, search, and cricket. About 21.7% of the data used by Opera Mini’s Android users in India is for Facebook, while Google used up about 5.8%, and ESPNCricinfo about 1.7%. However, Google remained the most popular website in India. Besides using Opera Mini for social networking, Indians were also searching for news and information, doing price comparison, and shopping online. Almost 50% of the top hundred domains visited by Opera Mini’s Android users belonged to these categories. The top ten websites were Google, Facebook, YouTube, Wikipedia, Yahoo, Cricbuzz, Indiatimes, Ask, Vuclip, and In.com.
When it comes to devices, the top ten list is dominated by budget handsets, with the record breaking Samsung Galaxy S III featuring as low as the 19th spot. All of the top nine handsets used by Opera Mini users were priced under Rs. 10,000 (about $186), with the Samsung Galaxy S II grabbing the tenth spot. The most popular Android smartphone among Opera Mini users were the Samsung Galaxy Y and the Samsung Galaxy U Duos. Samsung has clearly managed to corner the high volume low-end Android smartphone market. The only non-Samsung device to feature in the top ten is the HTC Explorer A310e, which is present at #8 in the list.
If the overdose of stats is putting you to sleep, here’s a neat infographic highlighting the key aspects of Opera’s report.
Opera Software has often highlighted Opera Mini as a browser that ‘connects the unconnected’. What they mean is that Opera Mini on mobile phones is often the only way a significant chunk of its users access the World Wide Web. Opera Mini is extremely popular in nations like India, Bangladesh, Brazil, Egypt, Malaysia, and Kenya, where PC penetration is low, but mobile phone penetration is extremely high. The reasons for this are obvious. Opera Mini works even on low-end phones, and is capable of rendering web pages that these phones would otherwise be unable to render. It also compresses web pages during the data transfer, thus increasing speed and reducing bandwidth consumption.
Putting two and two together, towards the end of 2012, Opera Software introduced a service called Web Pass. Web Pass offered mobile web surfers pay-as-you-go internet connections. Realizing that most people in developing nations don’t have means of online payment like Credit Cards, Opera tied up with mobile service providers to enable instant purchase that would be billed to the user’s mobile connection. Malaysia’s DiGi Telecommunications became Opera’s first partner, which allowed users to instantly purchase data packages. Pay as you go plans included cheap options like Facebook hourly pass (0.15 USD), as well as more full fledged data options like 24 hour internet packs (0.65 USD).
In this month’s State of the Mobile Web report, Opera Software zeroed in on its new Web Pass, and apprently it’s doing quite well. Some of the stats that Opera shared are:
- Up to 52% of all Opera Web Passes in any given month were bought by returning customers.
- By incentivizing use through a free Facebook hourly web pass for the entire month of January DiGi managed to increase the uptake of paid web passes significantly. This resulted in an average revenue increase of 56%, and a 65% increase of the average number of transactions per day, compared to the revenues before the promotion drive.
- There has been a very low checkout-abandonment rate and an overall checkout success of more than 77% among users with sufficient funds.
The most popular web pass is one that provides customers with time-based, unlimited access to Facebook.
Opera Software also revealed that it gained 8 million active mobile users in the month of January. The total user count of Opera’s various mobile offerings currently stands at 237 million. Opera is also doing fairly well in the smartphone segment, with a 32% of the total users of Opera Mini and Opera Mobile using smartphones to browse the web. These users constituted 32% of the new installs witnessed last month.
Opera Software has updated Opera Mini for Apple devices, keeping in mind the recently released iOS 6. Opera Mini is among the most popular mobile browsers with about two hundred million users spread across various platforms including J2ME, iOS, and Android. It was the first non-Webkit based browser to be allowed into the App Store.
Opera Mini redirects web-traffic through its servers where the pages are rendered and compressed. The client simply displays a static representation of the pre-rendered webpages. The advantage of this arrangement is that it can result in up to 90% bandwidth saving and increases surfing speed on slower networks. However, this also prevents rich modern web apps from working on Opera Mini.
Opera Mini 7.0.5 includes a bunch of iOS 6 related fixes and integration with the iOS 6 Facebook framework. Other changes mentioned in the release notes are:
– Improved performance when saving large images
– Fixed freeze after sharing via email
– Fixed video playback on youtube.com (iPhone and iPod)
– Performance and stability fixes
– Added support for iOS 4.2
Opera Mini 7.0.5 is a minor incremental update. However, if you are planning to use Opera Mini on iOS 6, you will get better mileage with the latest version.
[ Download Opepra Mini for iOS ]
Opera Software is promising to make your Android smartphone even smarter with Opera Mini 7.5 for Android. The new Opera Mini for Android introduces ‘Smart Page’, which we had seen earlier in Opera Mini for J2ME, S60, and BlackBerry.
Smart Page acts as a new personalized home page, which gives you a birds-eye view of what’s happening. “There are just too many social networks, and I’m a busy man! Now, thanks to the Smart Page I can get all the updates at a glance, even from my favorite Danish newspapers. This is a real time saver!” remarked Lars Boilesen, CEO, Opera Software. Smart Page features three main categories of content:
- Social tab: This section allows you to get a glimpse of your Facebook, Twitter, and vKontakte streams at one place, without having to visit several webpages.
- My News: This section highlights latest news pulled from different sources. Opera Software claims that Opera Mini learns your preferences and interests from your browsing habits and showcases news that it believes you will be interested in.
- Suggested links: This section features a list of relevant links based on the region your Android phone is located. Some of the suggested links can be sponsored links from Opera’s partners.
Opera Mini’s initial claim to fame was its ability to compress webpages to reduce bandwidth bills and improve surfing speed on slower networks. Opera Mini 7.5 stays true to its tradition and is both light and fast. After using Chrome for Android, I can’t help but wish that Opera ditched its practice of having a consistent interface across platforms, and instead went with a more native appearance. However, Opera Mini is still one app that I will always have on my phone, simply because it can be a huge time and money saver when you are travelling or don’t have access to fast internet.
Opera Mini 7 for feature phones, which was first showcased in this year’s Mobile World Congress, is now ready for the general public. The main draw of the new version is something that Opera Software is calling the Smart Page.
Smart Page is the new start page of Opera Mini, which helps you keep tabs on your Facebook and Twitter stream without breaking a sweat. It also provides quick access to your favorite websites, fetches weather info, updates sports scores, and keeps you informed about the latest news.
“I’ve spent hours typing web addresses on my mobile phone, but now there’s a super smart way to get most of your content at a glance,” said Lars Boilesen, CEO, Opera Software. “With Smart Page, you just open the browser, and the content is right beside your Speed Dial shortcuts in the start screen for you to skim through — super practical, super time-saving and super smart. I guess that’s why the product team called it Smart Page.”
Opera Mini is the world’s most popular mobile browser with over 172 million users. It is especially popular in those regions where basic phones still rule the roost, and internet connectivity is slow and expensive. Opera Mini can work on even basic J2ME devices, since it offloads the task of rendering the webpage to its servers, through which all web traffic is routed. Opera Mini receives a compressed static representation of the webpage from its servers, and displays it on the mobile device. This can lead to significant bandwidth savings and increased surfing speed on slower networks.
Opera Mini 7 with Smart Page is available for Java-compatible (J2ME), S60 and Blackberry feature phones.
[ Download Opera Mini 7 ]
Opera Mini 7 for Android is now available for download from the Google Play Store. The feature set is fairly similar to the Opera Mini 7 for J2ME, BlackBerry and Symbian S60 devices, which was previewed in last month’s MWC. Speed dial feature has been bolstered to support unlimited number of speed dials. Find-in-page as well as tab management features have been tweaked to make them more intuitive.
There are also a couple of significant enhancements that are exclusive to the Android version. Opera Mini now supports Android Beam, which uses NFC for data transfer. Rendering performance should also be significantly improved as the latest release supports OpenGLES.
Opera Mini is the slightly less capable sibling of Opera Mobile. It was originally meant for feature phones that lacked the processing power required for a full-fledged mobile browser. However, it has since managed to find an audience among the smartphone users too. Opera Mini doesn’t render webpages locally. Instead it routes all requests through its servers where the page is rendered and compressed. A highly compressed static representation of the page is then sent back to the mobile user. This technology is both Opera Mini’s biggest strength and weakness. The compression enables Opera Mini to achieve massive bandwidth savings (up to 90%), and also improve browsing speed on slower networks. However, it also means that Opera Mini is unable to render some of the more dynamic webpages properly.
You can download Opera Mini 7 for Android from the Android Play Store or Opera’s website.
Even though smartphones rule the roost in MWC, Opera Software hasn’t forgotten about its dumb phone users. Opera Mini Next 7, which was unveiled earlier today, introduces many of the conveniences of a smartphone to J2ME powered budget handsets.
Typically, Opera has dedicated its entire new tab page to speed dials, which are visual bookmarks that provide one click access to a user’s favorite websites. However, Opera Mini 7 features something called “Smart Page”. Speed dials are still there; however, they are now tucked away in a separate tab, and like its more abled sibling, Opera Mini now supports an unlimited number of speed dials. The Smart Page itself is an amalgamation of content from various places around the web, including social networks. Check out the video below to get an idea about how Smart Page works.
Opera’s CEO Lars Boilesen explained the rationale behind the new start page in the press release.
“When people think of using social networks on the go, they often imagine a smartphone with the latest apps installed. At Opera, we know that’s not the way a majority of mobile phone owners access their social networks. That’s why we’ve made ‘ordinary’ phones smarter, by making it easier to use the most popular social networks right in the first screen of Opera Mini for feature phones. Just because you’re on a more basic phone, doesn’t mean you can’t be a active social networker.”
Unfortunately, Smart Page is restricted to only J2ME, BlackBerry and Symbian S60 devices for now. Opera Mini for smartphones like iOS and Android also received an update. However, on smartphones the focus was more on improving rendering and performance than adding new features.
The preview release of Opera Mini 7 is available at opera.com/mobile/next/.
Social Media websites, whose very existence is threatened by SOPA, were amongst the biggest gainers in 2011, suggests a report published by Opera Software. The latest edition of Opera’s monthly State of the Mobile Web report, which is generated using aggregated information obtained from Opera Mini servers, takes a look at the top mobile websites at the end of 2011.
Unsurprisingly, Google Search topped the list, while Facebook held on to its position as runners-up. Wikipedia, Blogger, Spaces, Twitter and YouTube were amongst the gainers this year. Predictably enough, Wapdam, Orkut, Detik and Live vanished from the top 20, while Yahoo fell by a couple of spots. The top ten mobile websites, as reported by Opera are:
- youtube.com (up 1)
- vkontakte.ru (down 1)
- wikipedia.org (up 4)
- yahoo.com (down 2)
- twitter.com (up 2)
Opera Mini itself experienced a year-on-year growth of 80.6%. It finished November 2011 with 144.6 million users, a 3.3% increase from October. Opera Mini users viewed over 88.5 billion pages, which would have normally generated 13.2 petabytes of traffic. However, thanks to its server side compression algorithm, Opera Mini managed to reduce network traffic to less than 1.5 petabytes.
Most of Opera Mini’s growth came from Latin America and Africa. Asia, where Opera Mini has always been popular, continued to display impressive growth, but North America once again proved to be a tough nut to crack.
As usual, Opera Software has been keeping itself busy. Just a couple of days after releasing Swordfish (Opera 11.50), it has pumped out another update. Opera Mini 6.1 and Opera Mobile 11.1 for a wide range of platforms have been released.
As suggested by the version number, this is a fairly minor update. There are two main improvements. The first one is support for auto-suggest for search engines. Currently, this feature is only available for Google and Yandex. The second enhancement is the addition of auto-complete for forms. Both of these are features that users had been requesting for quite some time. We have a saying at Opera: Listen to our users,said Dag Olav Norem, VP Product Management, Opera Software. As a company, we are constantly listening to our users on what they want in their browser. So, to our most vocal consumers, thank you and keep the feedback coming!
Opera Mini is mainly aimed at feature phones that don’t have enough power to run a full-fledged browser. The task of rendering websites is offloaded to Opera’s remote servers. They process the webpages and send a static representation back to the browser. It also compresses the webpages, which results in faster browsing on slower networks, and reduces bandwidth consumption. Although Opera Mini was initially intended for feature phones, it is now available for Android and iOS also. Smartphone owners who are on a slow network or a metered connection can use Opera Mini for a faster and cheaper browsing experience. Opera Mobile is the full-fledged mobile browsing solution that uses the same Presto rendering engine as the desktop browser. This means that Opera Mobile supports advanced HTML5 and CSS3 features, and is capable of running client-side scripts.
You can download the latest version of Opera Mini and Opera Mobile from m.opera.com.
Yesterday, we reported that Opera Software had launched its own app store called Opera Mobile Store. It appears that within a day of its launch, Opera has managed to ruffle some feathers. Earlier today, Opera Mini was kicked out of GetJar one of the largest multi-platform mobile application repositories. The reason is quite obvious. Updated versions of Opera Mini and Opera Mobile include a speed dial entry to Opera Mobile Store, thus effectively bundling the app store with the browser.
While it’s true that Opera Mini violated GetJar’s ToS (Terms of Service), I find it hard to be entirely supportive of GetJar’s decision. It’s something I would have anticipated from Apple, but not from GetJar. Nevertheless, at least, GetJar isn’t trying hiding behind false pretenses. Patrick Mork, Chief Marketing Officer of GetJar admitted that competition is the reason Opera Mini was pulled.
The simple problem is that Opera mini decided to include a competing app store in its browser. Although we don’t have any issue with this in principle, in practice it means that consumers might start using this app store instead of visiting GetJar to get their favourite apps. This robs GetJar of traffic and therefore of the advertising necessary to keep our service free for the more than 25 million consumers that use GetJar. It also jeopardizes an ecosystem that has generated over 1.6 billion downloads for tens of thousands of developers who depend on us to make money from their apps. Don’t get me wrong: we’re happy to go head-to-head with any other app store and are certain that once you’ve tried the Opera App store you’ll find the depth of content, discovery and download from GetJar more compelling than ever. But it’s an another thing entirely to help competitors grow their business at our expense or that of our community.
Before being banned, Opera Mini was one of the most popular apps in GetJar, with a total of more than 30 million downloads. Apparently, GetJar and Opera has been in discussions for the past several months. The discussions are still going on, and Opera Software has indicated that it is interested in working with GetJar to find a reasonable solution. So, don’t rule out a comeback yet.