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Ask your questions to the people behind Opera Widgets on mobile phones

mobile-widget.jpgA few months ago Opera announced that the upcoming edition of Opera Mobile, based on the Opera 9 browser, will support Opera Widgets.

These Opera Widgets are small web applications that run outside of the browser and will be instantly accessible on the phone without having to launch the Web browser.

Opera Widgets are based on the same technologies used to create webpages – HTML, CSS, SVG, JavaScript (and AJAX) – so you could easily create a weather, traffic, news or email widget that gets its data by using AJAX, for example. No longer do you need to program your mobile applications in JME, etc – now, it’s as simple as developing webpage.

Opera Widgets is certainly an exciting technology platform for developers to build applications for mobile phones. There are far more developers that are able to program using web technologies than any other development technology for mobile. In addition, this will allow for user-generated mobile widgets to be easily developed and deployed.

I thought it would be beneficial for you guys and gals to get more information about widgets on mobile phones. I’ve invited a couple of Product Managers at Opera Software working on the mobile side to answer the questions you may have on mobile widgets.

Post your questions about Opera Widgets support on mobile phones to the comments. I’ll post the answers here on Opera Watch in the coming weeks.

Got any questions about Opera Widgets on mobile phones? Ask.

How Opera Mini is exploding in popularity with virtually no advertisement?

April 30, 2007 7 comments

It has been only a short 15 months since Opera Mini was released, and even with virtually no paid advertisement on Opera’s part, the mini mobile browser has been exploding in popularity all across the world.

I get the Opera Mini usage statistics report every day, and I see the growth among active users continue upwards.

It’s almost mind boggling to me that it became so popular largely through the power of word of mouth.

As part of my job I attend many conferences and events; I bump into people using Opera Mini all the time. The response I usually get is more than just neutral – they’re lovin’ it.

Opera Mini just works.

Which is why people are not only using it themselves, they’re also recommending it to others. The success of Opera Mini is all due to everyone who’s convinced a friend, family member or colleague to try it.

Here’s an example of how Opera Mini is gaining traction. Martin Hansen, a reader of this blog posted the following comment (edited for clarity) to a post I wrote yesterday.

“I told my brother about Opera Mini a couple months ago, and now he uses it quite a lot. Anyway, here the other day he was recalled to the military for a week’s training operation. And in the evening after a hard days work, he goes online with Opera Mini, a perfect situation where Opera Mini is a life saver.

Well, what happened is that suddenly everyone in his squad (or whatever) now wanted Opera Mini too. And he told me the impressions of Opera Mini were good among the people. I guess this is how Opera Mini has gotten many users without much active advertising.”

PC Magazine recently gave Opera Mini a 4 star rating, saying “If you only ever download one cell phone app, download Opera… Opera Mini 3.0 might change your life. This software injects an almost desktop-quality Web browser into even relatively humble devices.”

Opera Mini is becoming so popular; it’s now competing with some desktop browsers. For example, in Ukraine Opera Mini is more used than Safari, Netscape and Mozilla combined. Now, that’s a feat for a mobile browser.

How many people have **you** told about the free Opera Mini?

Categories: Opera Mini

Update: Opera Mini beats Safari, Netscape and Mozilla combined in Ukraine

April 24, 2007 9 comments

Last Friday I blogged about Opera Mini being more popular than Apple’s Safari browser in Ukraine, a country with 42 million people. Now the IDG Wire service picked up on the story with articles in Network World, Yahoo News, PC World and PC Advisor.

The point of my blog post last week is that for the first time a mobile browser is beating desktop browsers in the rankings. And it’s no surprise to me that the popular Opera Mini is the one to beat the big guys.

Either way, a top Opera executive pointed out to another ranking (which counts more visitors) that shows Opera Mini beating Safari, Netscape and Mozilla combined in Ukraine.

Internet Explorer: 75.9%
Opera: 11.5%
Firefox: 11.2%
Opera Mini: 0.7%
Mozilla: 0.3%
Netscape: 0.1%
Safari: 0.1%

This data also shows the importance for web developers to test their sites and web applications in the Opera browser. Do you want to turn away more than 12% of Ukraine, a population of 42 million?

Categories: Opera Mini, Statistics

How Opera ranks with its SVG implementation? "Best native implementation"

April 23, 2007 10 comments

Jeff Schiller, a software developer, has done some nice work grading the support of Scalable Vector Graphics, otherwise known as SVG, in browsers and plugins.

Using the SVG Test Suite supplied by the W3C, he graded each of the browsers and browser plugins on their support for SVG.

Here are the results (score out of 100%):

Browsers:
Opera 9.10: 89.64%
Firefox 3.0 PreA4: 56.00%
Konqueror 3.5.5: 53.03%
Opera 8.5: 47.27%
Firefox 2.0.1: 45.82%
Firefox 1.5.0.11: 44.55%

Browser plugins:
Batik: 92.18%
Adobe SVG Viewer 6 PR1: 85.82%
Adobe SVG Viewer 3: 82.73%
Renesis 0.5: 32.91%

“In roughly a year, the Opera browser went from being one of the least usable SVG implementations (no scripting/DOM support) to the best native implementation and achieved a higher score than the famed Adobe SVG Viewer”

It should be pointed out that Opera has greatly advanced its support for SVG since Opera 9.1 and 9.2. The Wii Opera-powered browser has a more advanced rendering engine than the desktop version of Opera 9 (The next major rendering engine update for Opera will likely be Opera 9.5). If these tests would be taken again using the Wii browser (with the newer rendering engine), Opera would score much higher. According to one internal estimate, Opera would score about 95%.

I was at a recent Mobile Monday conference in New York, where the day’s talks gathered around SVG. Opera’s implementation of SVG was lauded by most speakers as “top of the line.”

SVG allows you to create graphics and animations using text-only. One of the main advantages to using SVG is “write once, run on any screen resolution.” Since the graphics and animations are text-based, they can be easily adapted for any screen size.

SVG is very popular on mobile phones for this reason.

If you’re wondering why Opera is putting resources into SVG? Well… As I’ve mentioned before, Opera 9 for mobile phones supports Opera Widgets, and since Opera Widgets are written using common web standards, such as HTML, CSS, JavaScript and SVG, you’ll be able to make complex and neat-looking mobile applications that will work on any phone with an Opera browser. Think of the possibilities.

(Learn more about SVG on dev.opera.com)

Categories: Opera Mobile, Standards

Opera for Windows Mobile passes Acid2 test; on pace to become first WM browser to pass test

April 23, 2007 14 comments

Opera 9 for Windows Mobile now passes the Acid2 test in internal builds of the browser (see screenshot below). Opera Mobile is on pace to become the first Windows Mobile browser to pass the Acid2 test, unless Pocket IE or Access speed things up.

The Acid2 test has been written to help browser vendors make sure their products correctly support features that are part of web standards.

Safari and Konqueror were the first major browsers to pass the Acid2 test. Opera quickly followed with the release of Opera 9. Alpha builds of Firefox 3 also passed the test. Where’s Internet Explorer (IE) though?

The upcoming Opera Mobile edition will include the latest PC browsing features such as Widgets and Intelligent Zoom (made popular by the Wii Opera-powered browser).

Opera 9 on mobile phones will add completely new dimensions to navigation. You will be able to seamlessly alternate between viewing modes to get a birds-eye perspective or dive into the page’s content. Read more about it here.

Also making their debut with Opera Mobile are Opera Widgets. Opera Widgets are small web applications that run outside of the browser and are instantly accessible on the phone without having to launch the Web browser.

Opera Widgets are based on the same technologies used to create webpages – HTML, CSS, JavaScript (and AJAX) – so you could easily create a weather, traffic, news or email widget that gets its data by using AJAX, for example. No longer do you need to program your mobile applications in J2ME, etc – now, it’s as simple as developing webpage.

Opera Mobile is currently shipped on more than 50 million phones from major manufacturers such as Motorola, Nokia, Samsung and Sony Ericsson.

This browser is not only popular with phone manufacturers; users have also shown great interest by manually downloading it to their phones. Last month Opera announced that downloads of the Opera Mobile browser for Windows Mobile Smartphones and Pocket PCs have increased by more than 50% over the same time period last year.

The most recent version of Opera for Windows Mobile is in public beta with 8.65. The browser is available for Smartphones and Pocket PCs: Windows Mobile (WM) 2003, WM 5, and WM 6.

(Download Opera for your Pocket PC or Smartphone)

acid-2.jpg
Screenshot of an internal build of Opera 9 for
Windows Mobile passing the Acid 2 test

The Register: Opera is becoming a major thorn in the side of Internet Explorer

April 22, 2007 2 comments

This is what The Register had to say about Internet Explorer’s (IE) relationship with Opera.

“In common with many other innovators in this area, Palm is expected to work closely with Opera on the browser front – the Opera product, which supports Ajax and many other advanced functions also being pioneered by Apple/Nokia and Yahoo! is becoming a major thorn in the side of Internet Explorer as it never was in the PC world.”

Read my blog post from last month to see why IE should feel threatened by Opera, specifically in the mobile arena. Couple that with the exploding popularity of the free Opera Mini browser for mobile phones. The strength of Opera’s mobile browser is truly becoming a power with whom to reckon.

Categories: Opera Mobile

Opera Mini bigger than Safari in Ukraine

April 20, 2007 21 comments

According to browser usage statistics from Ranking.com.ua, Opera Mini has double the amount of users than Safari in Ukraine.

Web browsers brands:

  1. Internet Explorer, 74.4%
  2. Opera, 14.7%
  3. Firefox, 9.6%
  4. Mozilla, 0.5%
  5. Opera Mini, 0.4%
  6. Safari, 0.2%

It’s encouraging to see Opera Mini, a mobile browser, more used than Safari, which has a market share of around 4%.

Categories: Opera Mini