Browser critical to cellphones - Opera
Duncan Alfreds, News24
Cape Town - The browser remains central to cellphones, as users mostly use their mobile devices to engage with the web on some level, Opera has said.
"There are very few things you will do on your phone which isn't already associated or related to the web," Christen Krogh, Opera chief development officer, told News24.
The Norway-based browser manufacturer dominates the mobile browser market and says that despite the increase in the number of mobile applications, browsers remain critical to the functionality of the cellphones.
"When we look at what people are doing, by analysing aggregated data from our servers to get top-rankings, we see things like social web; web mail, social messaging services like MXit for example.
"In the near future it will mostly be web anyway," Krogh said.
Apps are an easy way for companies to engage with a specific audience, and in terms of e-commerce they make sense because of the tools that can be built into them.
But studies have shown that as far as browsing the web and consuming content is concerned, more users make use of a browser than apps.
"A recent study from Nielsen net rating shows that the browser is …more used than the most popular app. If you look at how many times people use the Facebook app, people use the browser many more times than the most popular app.
"So browsers are more popular than apps," said Krogh.
He said web technology is underpinning more application development, especially as companies seek creative ways to engage with their target audience.
"What we're seeing at Opera is a general tendency of more and more apps being developed by web technology. We are seeing news sites developing their web pages and web applications to become more like apps."
Listen to Christen Krogh here:
Christen Krogh by News24
Krogh indicated that consumers didn't care what technology was driving their engagement with brands and information, but that web technology would be a driver of app development in the long term.
"In the long run, we think that consumers are not going to be interested in the underlying technology, but we're seeing a tendency that more apps are being developed by means of web technology," he said.
Opera launched an app store in 2011 after a company acquisition and this will serve the firm as it expands into markets like television.
Krogh said the company expected technologies to merge and wanted to ensure a strategy for multiple eventualities.
"In the long run, more and more applications will be based on web and we believe ourselves to be the dominant mobile web platform so we want to use the acquisition of this company in order to position ourselves for this merge of technologies."
As mobile operators roll out faster networks, some have suggested that web compression may become redundant.
Krogh rejected this, saying that even as network speeds increase, web pages themselves have become more complex, which almost nullifies the advantage.
"Opera is not only about compression. It's a competitive advantage we have which makes all kinds of web experiences faster. We even work on fast networks.
"Looking at the size of websites, ranging from the late 90s until 2008. Unsurprisingly, web pages grow is size; they become more complicated," he said.
He added that Opera had changed its browser in terms of its complexity in line with advancement of the web.
"Going back to the late 90s, the web browser we built then was a little bit like a printing press. Now the browser of the last five, six or seven years has changed from being a printing press to becoming an execution platform for applications," said Krogh.
"So where the size and complexity of the web pages has grown, the browser has grown in capability to run applications."
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