Opera on the iPhone? Maybe. Someday.

By  |  Wednesday, January 14, 2009 at 1:53 pm

operaiconSome of the reports today on Apple’s approval of new browser-related iPhone apps make it sound like the company has opened the floodgates for Safari rivals to make their way onto iPhones. Not true–the new apps all use Safari’s WebKit rendering engine and are therefore piggybacking on Safari rather than trying to replace it. But I happened to have a meeting scheduled today with Christen Krogh, Chief Development Officer at Norway-based browser company Opera, which has talked in the past of the possibility of releasing a real Safari alternative for the iPhone. And so I asked him the obvious: Does today’s new affect the company’s interest in the iPhone?

“We’re absolutely positive we could produce a fantastic version of Opera for any platform, including the iPhone,” Krogh told me. But he said that the company would have to have a compelling reason for doing so–it wouldn’t do so just to prove it could. So I asked him if it did have any compelling reason to want to be on the iPhone. “Right now, it doesn’t matter,” he said, since it still appears that Apple wouldn’t allow a competitive browser into its App Store.

So there you go: We seem to be in a vicious circle in which it’s pointless for Opera (or other companies like Mozilla) to invest any attention or effort in iPhone versions until it’s clear that Apple will permit them to distribute their browsers. And even if Apple does decide to loosen up, it probably won’t release a press release trumpeting that fact.

One way or another, I’d love to see multiple browsers on the iPhone. We know what it’s like when a browser has no viable competition–you get the calcification of Internet Explorer that happened from the late 1990s until Firefox showed up and started the browser wars anew.

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  1. Windryder Says:

    I am a long time use of Opera, v1 to present.
    Now that I am an Iphone owner and love it, There are 2 complaints that I have with opera,
    1. It doesn’t support socks 4 or 5 protocall, thus I can no longer use it as my prefered browser, since I am now using my iPhone as my Internet connection( tethered).

    2. There is not an iPhone native version.

    I or order to bring Apple to the realization that their monopolistic attitude is assinine, it will take companies such as Opera to say to hell with Apple and it’s App store and to go ahead and develope there apps and distribute them via others means. It is possible. Opera did it by bucking MS, and produced the best browser on the market. Mozzila, copycat.
    should lookat the features that were developed by Opera that are totally lacking on IE and are now a features, and now only just being implemented in mozzila and completely lacking in Safari. Example: Tabbed pages, side bar panels to name a few.

    Come on Opera do what you do best and produce a browser for the iPhone and let everyone else play catchup.