Opera Belts Out Slew of Mobile Announcements

It’s been a busy week at Opera Software. The Norwegian browser maker said yesterday it has inked a three-year deal with Motorola. The contract is an expansion of an existing deal with the mobile mammoth and assures that the Opera Web browser will be available on all Motorola mobile phones.

Jupiter Research analyst Joe Wilcox told TechNewsWorld that, with this deal, Opera is betting on the future. “Increasingly, phones are going to be a means by which people access the Internet. One of the most likely uses of a phone browser is search,” he said. “When you are out and about, you may want to search for a good place to eat or find out what movie is playing down the street.”

The Motorola announcement follows Opera’s release yesterday of the latest version of its Opera Web browser, Opera 8, for Windows Mobile. Opera Software CEO Jon S. von Tetzchner said the company had not originally planned to make Opera available on the Windows Mobile platform, “but users kept asking for it because they were disappointed with the far from satisfactory performance of the browser that came shipped with their devices.”

Turning Japanese

Also yesterday, Opera announced that its browser is included on the new Toshiba W31T camera phone available on KDDI’s 3G network in Japan. Opera signed an agreement with Japanese telecom KDDI in August 2004 to deliver the Opera browser on its 3G network in Japan.

“Japan is the most technologically advanced market in the world, and the fact that the Opera browser is securing such a strong position in their market is a solid testament to its quality,” von Tetzchner said. “As Japan is a trendsetter in mobile !–keyword:auto:7049–>technology we are pleased to see that the Opera browser is starting to become the killer app on their 3G handsets.”

Expanding in China

Meanwhile, Opera announced that ZTE Corporation, China’s leading telecommunications manufacturer and wireless solutions provider, has chosen the Opera mobile Web browser for its new GSM mobile phone in China, the e3. The ZTE e3 is an advanced Linux-based smartphone geared toward the Chinese business market.

With the ZTE e3, Opera increases its presence in China. The company had previously announced its cooperation with Datang Mobile Communications Equipment to provide China with Opera’s full Internet browser for Datang Mobile’s TD-SCDMA 3G network. Opera is also included on the Motorola a780 and two Kyocera phones in China.

“China is the fastest growing mobile market in the world, and expected to have over 400 million mobile subscribers by the end of 2005,” von Tetzchner said. “It is an exciting and important market for us, and we’re happy to be working with ZTE in providing mobile Web access to the Chinese people.”

Going Where the Customers Are

Jupiter’s Wilcox said one trend to watch for in emerging markets is “phone first and PC second.” It’s not uncommon to see Asian households where the cell phone becomes not only a telephony communications device but also a data device — and the main means by which they connect to the Internet, he said.

“These deals open up new capabilities for the phones and it’s sensible for Opera, whether in established or emerging markets, to make sure that it’s browser is there,” he said.

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