Phillip Gronvold, Opera SoftwareBy Hanleigh Daniels 16 August 2011 | Categories: interviews
Opera Software's Mini and Mobile browsers dominate the mobile browser landscape, especially on the African continent. Since introducing an "open in background tab"-like feature, Opera Mobile has also become the browser of choice on mobile devices here at the TechSmart office. We caught up with Phillip Gronvold, Opera Software's product manager for mobile.
TechSmart (TS): The Opera Mini browser is the leading mobile phone browser in SA and a number of countries on the African continent. To what do you attribute its popularity?
Phillip Gronvold (PG): The dominance of mobile browsing over desktop browsing in Africa, and limits in internet connections, have certainly led to the popularity of the Opera Mini mobile web browser. Opera Mini is unique in that it shrinks down webpages to as little as 10% of their original size before they land on your phone - this saves a mobile phone user time, money and frustration, and helps extend the capacity of data networks. We also find that Opera spreads like wildfire by word-of-mouth, and with 72% market share throughout Africa, that's a lot of people getting the word out!
TS: Smartphones and tablet PCs feature prominently on the mobile computing scene and are pretty powerful platforms. What new features have these devices allowed you to bring to your mobile browsers?
PG: Smartphones and tablet PCs are significantly more powerful than previous devices, and feature better connections with faster mobile data lines. The tablets also of course have a larger display screen and allow for a different type of content to be displayed. These devices also give greater touch responsiveness, faster page drawing, and smoother scrolling on websites. For us, smartphones and tablet PCs mean we can pursue new, innovative features and performance updates to give users a top-notch browsing experience.
TS: Opera Mini is available for mobile devices powered by Apple's iOS, but why isn't the Opera Mobile browser?
PG: Apple’s terms and conditions for iPhone do not allow applications that execute code on the device, which is how our full high-fidelity Opera Mobile browser works. Opera Mini instead uses a server to render sites and web data before they land on your phone, so all the code execution is done outside the device.
TS: What will be driving the adoption of the Opera web browser in future?
PG: Our strategy is to build a better web browser with features that make your browsing faster and easier. Opera strives to lead the pack in innovation, while supporting web standards to ensure compatibility. Our vision is to provide the best internet experience on any device, and Opera is indeed bringing the web to more devices, such as TVs, set-top boxes and any other device with an internet connection.
This article first appeared in TechSmart Issue 95, August 2011.
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