Vodafone, the world's largest mobile operator by revenue, is to launch the Opera Mini browser on low-cost handsets so its millions of users in emerging markets can easily access the Internet.
Wireless operators are eager to increase revenue from Internet browsing and the social network boom, as revenue from traditional voice calls falls in saturated mature markets with strong competition. Data traffic passes through Opera's mobile browser and is packaged up to save network bandwidth. Vodafone said it had worked with Opera to develop an enhanced version of its Opera Mini 5, which gives Internet access to lower and mid-tier handsets connected to the more basic second generation, or 2G, networks. A range of Vodafone applications, which provide content, news updates and games, is also in development. Vodafone said the apps would be designed to deliver the most social benefits to users, such as providing email, finding a job and buying and selling services. “With this product, we can transform even basic handsets into very capable Internet browsing devices, enabling millions of people to enjoy the social and economic aspects of the Internet that many already take for granted,” said Jonathan Bill, Vodafone Internet Services head of Emerging Markets. The Opera Mini 5 browser has been embedded in a range of 20 devices and could be downloaded by over 250 handsets in Vodafone's range.
Vodafone said in February its group data revenue exceeded 1 billion pounds ($1.52 billion) in the final quarter of 2009, up 17.7 percent year on year, due to the strong take up of smartphones across Europe.