Cape Town - Opera Software announced on Thursday that it has signed a deal with Microsoft to be the default browser on Asha range of smartphones.
Microsoft, which recently acquired Nokia's mobile business, has been engaged in a re-aligning process as the software giant moves to reduce costs.
"As part of the agreement, people who use the current browser for these phones, Xpress, will be encouraged to upgrade to the latest Opera Mini browser. Factory-new devices will have Opera Mini pre-installed," Opera said.
Opera Mini is a popular browser, particularly among price sensitive consumers as the software compresses web pages so that users save on data costs.
The browser has been popular in developing countries where users typically experience data savings of around 90%. The software also works with smartphones and a Fin24 test returned data savings of 92% on Android-powered smartphones.
According to StatCounter, Opera Mini has seen an erosion of market share on mobile devices. In 2011, it was the top mobile browser with 22% of market share, but with the growth of Android, that share declined to 11% this year.
In particular, the sharp rise of Google's Chrome has contributed in part to the erosion of market share for competing browsers.
But Opera is bullish about the prospect of its web browser on Asha and feature phones.
"This is a great opportunity to spread the benefits of Opera Mini to millions more consumers in our core markets. There are still massive numbers of people who have not moved to smartphones, but Opera Mini can provide them with an amazing browsing experience right now," said Lars Boilesen, CEO of Opera Software.
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