Norwegian browser company Opera, which has been talking about an iPhone version since 2008, is no longer just talking. It says that it will demonstrate an iPhone edition of its Opera Mini phone browser next week at the Mobile World Congress show in Barcelona. And that’s all it’s said so far.
I hope, however, that Opera does submit Opera Mini, and that Apple startles us all by accepting it. The single most disturbing thing about the restrictions that Apple puts on iPhone developers is their tendency to eliminate applications that compete with Apple’s own software–it’s bad for iPhone owners. And ultimately it might be bad for Apple, if it tends to leave the company more complacent than if Safari and other programs faced competition on the iPhone itself.
Does the world need Opera Mini for the iPhone? Maybe: Mini is a fine basic browser on other phones, and it compresses Web pages on the server side in order to deliver the fastest possible rendering on the phone. Which might make it particularly useful when the best speed you can get out of AT&T’s network is pokey EDGE. Whatever Mini is, it isn’t a boring, pointless knockoff of Safari…