As should be common knowledge by now, Apple is very restrictive and sometimes quite arbitrary in managing its App Store. One thing is clear, though: fat chance there’s going to be an alternative browser in the App Store (i.e., one that doesn’t use WebKit). Mozilla didn’t even bother to submit Fennec, but Opera is going head-to-head with Apple: the Norwegian browser maker has announced Opera Mini for the iPhone, but has not yet submitted it for approval.
In a press release, Opera unveiled Opera Mini for the iPhone, and the company plans to give the press a sneak peek during next week’s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. The company claims that Opera Mini is up to six times faster than Safari on the iPhone and iPod Touch, due to its compression technology. In addition, they claim that this compression can cut data usage by as much as 90%. Furthermore, Opera Mini comes with tabs, a password manager, speed dial, and more.
“We are thrilled to offer journalists and partners an exclusive preview of Opera Mini for iPhone during the year’s biggest mobile event,” said Opera CEO Jon von Tetzchner, “This is a unique opportunity to introduce the fast, feature-rich Opera Mini experience for the iPhone, and to showcase our latest beta releases of Opera Mobile and Opera Mini on other platforms and devices. Opera’s mission is to bring the Web to the world, and by making Opera Mini available on yet another platform, we are one step closer.”
While we are all busy drooling over iPhones and mobile Safari, it’s easy to forget that Opera Mini is the most popular mobile browser in the world. By making Opera Mini available on the iPhone, Opera could gain a significant user base – assuming the browser is indeed better than Mobile Safari.
The big problem, of course, is the fact that Apple’s App Store rules forbid browsers that make use of engines other than the built-in WebKit. The browser has yet to be submitted to the App Store, but judging by past actions, it seems unlikely Apple will approve of Opera Mini. “We have not submitted it yet to the Apple App Store. However, we hope that Apple will not deny their users a choice in Web browsing experience,” said Von Tetzchner.