Opera Browser a (Legal) Test for Apple

Opera has formally submitted its browser for iPhone app store approval. It previously demo'd the browser at the Mobile World Congress gathering in Spain last month. I wasn't there and haven't seen the browser in action on the iPhone -- though I've used it quite a bit on other smartphones -- but it's reportedly up to six times faster than mobile Safari.

If Apple disapproves the Opera browser it will have a potential anti-trust problem on its hands. The Europeans in particular, but maybe also American regulators, could take a closer look. The analogies to Microsoft and its bundling of IE with the Windows OS are unmistakable, although the iPhone's share of the mobile handset market is clearly not the same as Microsoft's share of the desktop OS market. 

Generally speaking consumers should have a choice of browsers on the iPhone, including Firefox, Opera and others. If however Apple declines Opera it could face a complaint in Europe. And given the Europeans' history with this issue (Microsoft-IE) they will likely take the matter seriously. 

Apple also loses additional credibility if it declines Opera. There is, however, a potential technical issue in the background here: Flash. Many mobile browsers do support or have the capacity to support Flash, although I don't know technically how that plays out on the iPhone: the browser could or does elsewhere but the iPhone OS doesn't. 

Separately, Opera-owned AdMarvel announced a "strategic partnership" with PointRoll to launch an iPad advertising platform that will emphasize rich media. 


Below is a video demo of the Opera Mini on the iPhone:

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