In a move that seems likely to end in rejection, Norway’s Opera Software has submitted its Opera Mini Web browser for iPhone to the iTunes App Store for approval. Although the availability of alternative Web browsers for the iPhone might seem at first flush to be a good ting…Apple’s approval that may never come, since Opera Mini would be a replacement for Apple’s own Safari browser, and Apple has historically nixed anything that duplicates or replaces the iPhone’s own core functionality. But…Opera says its testing shows Opera Mini can be up to six times faster than Apple’s own Safari on the iPhone.
“The Opera Mini for iPhone sneak peek during MWC told us that we have something special,” said Opera co-founder Jon von Tetzchner, in a statement. “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.”
Although Opera’s chances for approval seem slim under Apple’s ever-cryptic app-approval regime, Opera believes it has a good chance to get the browser approved…in part because it’s gone to great effort to draw attention to the browser, which might pressure Apple to approve it. Opera has posted a “count-up” clock chronicling how much time has passed since the browser was submitted to the iTunes App Store, and posted a video to YouTube touting the browsers’ performance and capabilities. And Opera is one of the most widely-used mobile browsers, with the company claiming Opera Mini is already on more than 50 million phones around the world.
Opera Mini’s speed gains aren’t so much due to software engineering as architecture: the browser works via a proxy service that compresses and reformats Web pages for faster presentation on mobile devices. The result is that Opera not only appears to work faster, but can also use significantly less bandwidth than a standard Web browser.