Opera overhauls Android browser, sets ballsy user targets


Today Opera took the wraps off an updated version of its mobile web browser for Android, Opera Mini, that’s styled on recent versions of Google mobile operating system and includes a range of new features. At the same time the Norwegian company has announced that it aims to double its user base by the end of next year.

“We aim to reach 275 million users on the Android platform by 2017, more than doubling today’s user base of 130 million,” says Opera Software CEO Lars Boilesen, adding that the company hopes to “further cement Opera’s position as a dominant browser in fast-growing, emerging economies”.

Though the Opera Mini browser is also available for other operating systems, Android is the platform upon which it’s enjoyed the greatest success to date.

opera-mini-screenshot-on-phoneThe updated Android version includes a peared down menu, a new private-browsing mode, a scalable interface to allow for higher resolution on phablets and tablets and an integrated data counter to track usage.

Opera Mini’s claim to fame in the decade since it was first launched has always the fact that it compresses webpages to reduce the amount of data used, making it popular in price-sensitive or data-poor markets. This has, however, sometimes meant longer load times for pages, but that sort of trade-off is to be expected as data needs to be routed via Opera’s own servers for the compression to take place.

The biggest challenge Opera faces, however, is consumer awareness. Android devices come with Google Chrome as the default browser, while Apple’s devices have Safari, meaning a user has to actively decide to seek out, download, install and actually use Opera Mini instead of a device’s default offering. That’s a tough sell.

Nonetheless, we like things that save us data (and, in turn, money) and we admire aspiration, so kudos to Opera. We’ll be sure to check those user numbers again next year.



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