Rumor: Opera Mini headed to the iPhone
According to TechCrunch Opera Software will unveil a version of their Opera Mini browser for the iPhone next week at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. While there has been no app submitted to Apple's App Store at this time, Opera has hopes that Apple will not deny "users the choice in web browsing experience." Don't get excited just yet, currently the only other web browsers Apple allows on the iPhone are WebKit based (the engine that powers Safari and Google Chrome) whereas Opera's browsers (desktop, mobile, mini, and Wii) all use the Presto engine.
Apple has been heavily criticized for their App Store policies, most recently with the rejection and removal of Google Voice apps allegedly at the request of AT&T. Other apps have been rejected for simply mimicking the functionality or existing features of the iPhone. Could we soon see a major change to the App Store, perhaps with the 3.2 or 4.0 version of the iPhone (and iPad) OS?
This will ultimately end with one of two possible outcomes.
- If the Opera Mini app is rejected, Opera and others (Microsoft, Mozilla, and possibly Google) will file anti-trust or anti-competitive suits against Apple for locking the iPhone to WebKit only browsers. Unlike the Microsoft Windows & IE lawsuits, Apple may actually be in a better position since WebKit is open source (GNU LGPL and BSD licenses) and anyone can create a WebKit based browser and submit it to the App Store. - In fact, there should be no reason why we cannot have Google Chrome on the iPhone right now, assuming Google wanted to make it.
- If the Opera Mini app is approved, this would signal the other players to develop their browsers for Apple's Smartphone. Mozilla could bring Fennec (mobile Firefox) and Microsoft could bring IE. As crazy as IE sounds on the iPhone, it could be possible. Microsoft already has a few iPhone apps, including a Bing Search App. Of course, even if Apple did allow other browsers on the iPhone, we most likely will never see Adobe Flash plugin support. Apple is adamant on pushing the web towards HTML5 and away from Flash.
The Mobile World Congress kicks off on February 15, 2010. Apple is not on the list of exhibitors.