Opera makes feature phones smarter

2012-02-27 14:31
Cape Town - Feature phone users normally struggle to connect to social networking sites like Facebook or Twitter, but the latest Opera browser promises to make these devices smarter and more social.

Opera has released Next for the Opera Mini browser that improves the ability of feature phones to access social networking sites.

"With social integration of Facebook and Twitter right in the first screen of Opera Mini Next, feature phone users get even closer to the social web of their lives and a smarter online experience," Opera said.

According to market researcher IDC, feature phones' sales declined by 4% worldwide. Smartphones are rapidly catching up to feature phones, but in developing countries in Africa, the cost of data is one of the factors that hampers the growth smart devices.

Opera has the most common mobile browser and the company has pioneered technology that reduces the data footprint of web pages of devices.


"That's why we've made 'ordinary' phones smarter, by making it easier to use the most popular social networks right in the first screen of Opera Mini for feature phones. Just because you're on a more basic phone, doesn't mean you can't be an active social networker," said Lars Boilesen, Opera Software CEO.

For smartphones, the browser promises a smoother experience with an unlimited number of Speed Dials or shortcuts to favourite web pages.

The Opera browser remains relevant despite the growth of smartphones because it reduces the cost of data for users. On slower networks, it also adds value to the user experience.

Higher network speeds are still a long way off in SA and manufactures are waiting for the operators to roll out the network before they release the devices in the local market.

"We haven't got any LTE products yet, but obviously we will change and it will become available as a standard when the need is there," Sony Ericsson Southern Africa marketing manager Colin Williamson told News24.

The operators, on the other hand, are waiting for the devices and ecosystem to be viable before investing in the network.

"We're rolling out where we can, but we haven't made a decision to go live. There're a couple of challenges: Ecosystem-wise, the LTE devices are still young, I mean it's a new technology, even though it's the most rapidly deployed one," said Kanagaratnam Lambotharan chief technology officer of MTN South Africa.

"Making too bold and too earlier a move [into LTE] and you could find your fingers burnt," said 8ta head Amith Maharaj.

Opera Mini is a free download from the Opera website.

- Follow Duncan on Twitter

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