Opera Mini Success?

april 6, 2006

Opera Mini has been downloaded 2.2 million times and has been getting some 4 million page hits a day.  That is great news because Opera Mini is quite an achievement.  Squeezing full HTML browsing into a small Java app which can run on any mobile phone is something to be celebrated and admired. For those of you who don't know, the way that Opera Mini is able to what it does is to use a backend proxy to do most of the rendering work.  You fire up Opera Mini on your Motorola RAZR, you request a page to go to, say Yahoo!.  That request gets sent not to www.yahoo.com, but it gets set to Opera's proxy server.  The server pulls in the Yahoo! frontpage, compresses all the images, renders it for small-screen viewing, and then sends it to the Opera Mini that is running on your phone.  Your phone does not have to be a full computer with lots of RAM to do the rendering, nor does the internet link have to be really fast, nor does the CPU have to be fast.  The brilliance is that Opera Mini is mostly just a dumb web terminal that gets stuff from the Opera proxy server. But, being a pragmatist, I have to ask:  How is Opera Software going to monetize this?  I don't want to burst any bubbles or be a wet blanket, but someone has to pay for all that bandwidth that the Opera proxy is pulling in and putting out.  Someone has to pay for all the servers that Opera puts up to do the pre-rendering, image shrinking, and proxy hosting.  My question is, now that Opera Mini is a success in terms of usage, how is Opera going to turn Opera Mini into a financial success?  I am sure that Opera is making some money from that Google search box in the application.  But, I am going to speculate that Opera may start selling a scaled down version of their recently deceased Opera Mobilie Accelerator.  Or can anyone say interstitial advertisments?  Congrats to Opera Software, lets see how they keep this up.