Monday, 10 December 2007

Opera Mini

You read my earlier post about web browsers? Well, I've installed Opera. Can't see myself using it long term, but it has some nice features. But it did mention Opera Mini, and as my current browsing experience on my mobile is pitiful (using Vodafone's awful web browser), I decided to give it a try.

Well, it's certainly a major step up from the default one - the previous one made it a tortuous experience trying to browse the web, but Opera Mini makes it a relatively painless experience.

However, I don't think that the Internet on mobile phones is likely to take off for some time. Of all the phones I've seen, only the Apple iPhone looks like something I could actually use to browse the Internet on a regular basis. There will be more, I'm sure of it, and apps like Opera Mini will help that, but for the moment I don't think it'll really happen.

Here's what I think needs to happen for the mobile Internet to take off:
  1. We need all-you-can-browse payment plans - This I can't emphasise enough. Until you can just pay a flat fee each month for as much content as you like, it will remain prohibitively expensive to browse the Internet on your phone. The same thing happened with wired Internet access - only once ISP's started offering that kind of plan did people really start to use it a lot. I believe T-Mobile here in the UK are offering a package called Web-n-Walk which offers precisely this.
  2. Reasonable speed - We'll probably have to wait for 4G before this becomes a reality, but once it does, that will drive further adoption of mobile web browsing.
  3. Devices better suited to web browsing - As I mentioned above, only the Apple iPhone is really designed to make mobile web browsing a good experience.
  4. Better applications - Google's Android platform will no doubt help to make this a reality. Basically we need decent browsers, as well as an easy way to read e-mails. How about IM as well?
There's no doubt about it, the mobile Internet will appear in the next few years, but there's still a lot of work to be done before it comes. Personally I can't wait - I'd love to be able to blog on the go, or read my RSS feeds on the train to work.

In the meantime, Opera Mini is an excellent application compared to Vodafone's default browser. Perhaps if mobile networks know what's good for them, they'll start preinstalling it on their phones.

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