The brilliancy of this move is twofold. First, if Apple approves Opera Mini, it will become the first alternative browser available for the iPhone platform. There are other browsers available in the App Store, but those are all wrappers around the same WebKit engine Safari uses, so it's not much in the form of competition. If Apple approves Opera Mini, you can bet your sweet bum that it will be downloaded a lot, if only by people who want to see what it's like.
Second, if Apple doesn't approve Opera Mini, the Norwegian browser maker can cry foul, and receive a lot of free publicity that way - deserved publicity, at that, in my opinion. Competing browsers is a good thing, even if the competition in this case is a special one, since Opera Mini is the variant that reroutes all traffic through Opera.
This also happens to be the reason why Opera Mini may be approved where other browsers weren't: since no code is being interpreted (it's all done server-side), it doesn't break that sacred App Store rule. If Apple wants to block Opera Mini, it'll have to come up with something else.
"The Opera Mini for iPhone sneak peek during MWC told us that we have something special," said Jon von Tetzchner, co-founder of Opera Software, "Opera has put every effort into creating a customized, stylized, feature-rich and highly responsive browser that masterfully combines iPhone capabilities with Opera's renowned Web experience, and the result is a high performing browser for the iPhone."
I have to admit, the video Opera has published to demonstrate Opera Mini on the iPhone is pretty impressive - I especially like the clever interface elements like how to switch tabs and the ability to tap and hold a link to open it in a new tab.
We'll see how it all pans out. If Apple wants to score some major points, it should approve Opera Mini by the end of the day (or at least really soon), but my guess is that won't happen. I'm not sure whether Apple will approve the browser or not, but if it does, it's going to take a while.