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Opera Mini: One Mln iPhone Downloads the First Day

Maybe iPhone users really do want a different browsing experience: Norway’s Opera Software says that more than one million iPhone users downloaded its Opera Mini Web browser for the iPhone in its first day of availability. The feat made Opera Mini the top download across all 22 international versions of Apple’s App Store and may show that iPhone users are looking for something a little different in a Web browser…or are at least curious what the first non-Safari Web browser available for the iPhone would be like.

“Today iPhone users have a choice, and, as the numbers show, they are eager to explore new and faster ways to surf the Web on the iPhone—especially during heavy Web traffic,” said Opera CEO Lars Boilesen, in a statement. “With any widely available and frequently downloaded Opera product, we are appreciative of all the feedback we are getting, as it helps us to continually improve our product and better meet the needs of our users.”

Although many expected Apple would never approve a non-Safari Web browser for the iPhone, Opera boldly submitted Opera Mini to the App Store in late March, launching a very public campaign letting folks know it had been submitted, complete with a clock ticking off every second Apple had not approved the application. However, Apple approved Opera Mini on April 13.

Perhaps as impressive as the one million downloads from iPhone users is Opera’s ability to keep up with all those curious new Web surfers. Unlike traditional mobile Web browsers that connect directly to remote sites much like a desktop or notebook PC, Opera Mini operates by directing every request through Opera’s own army of proxy servers, which go out and fetch the desired page, optimizes the content for bandwidth and mobile presentation—Opera claims up to six times the performance of a traditional browser—then sends it along to the Opera Mini application. This has the advantage of letting Opera Mini not have a JavaScript interpreter—probably a key factor in getting App Store approval—but also creates a potential security issue because any user credentials (like Web site usernames and passwords) are being passed long to Opera. However, as Opera Software rightly notes, Opera Mini is already a very popular Web browser on other platforms, and they haven’t had a security issue yet.

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