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Apple does the unthinkable and approves Opera Mini for the iPhone, iPod touch

In what must be one of the most shocking developments in the whole Apple App Store versus the third-party app market comes news that Opera Mini has been approved by Apple for the iPhone and iPod touch. When Opera Software submitted the apps for Apple's prying eyes back in March, no one really took them seriously and thought that they were just showing off to drum up some press.

Well, Apple has shown Opera some leniency and Opera Mini will be available to U.S. iPhone and iPod touch users shortly. Here's the Opera press release in its entirety:

Opera today announced its popular mobile browser, Opera Mini has been approved for iPhone and iPod touch on the App Store. Opera Mini will be available as a free download within 24 hours, depending on market.

Opera Mini, with more than 50 million users worldwide, enables fast mobile Web browsing by compressing data by up to 90 percent before sending content to the device, resulting in significantly improved page loading. Users of the app will notice an uptake in speed, especially on slower networks such as the 2G Edge network. Surfing the Web with the Opera Mini App on iPhone and iPod touch will also help users save money because of its data compression capabilities. This will hold especially true while the user is incurring roaming charges.

"We are delighted to offer iPhone and iPod touch users a great browsing experience with the Opera Mini App," said Lars Boilesen, CEO, Opera Software. "This app is another step toward Opera's goal of bringing the Web to more people in more places."

The Opera Mini App is available for free from the App Store on iPhone and iPod touch or at

Could the walls be crumbling in Apple's heavy-handed approach to App Store acceptance/rejection? Maybe Opera just caught Steve Jobs on a good day. Who knows, but this is at least a good step forward for Apple.

Updated 4/13/2010

It's now available in the iTunes Store.

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RE: Well...
By Tony Swash on 4/13/2010 8:26:29 AM , Rating: -1
The real issue isn't Opera, but the whole App Store's legality. Apple explicitly and purposefully makes it impossible to use any App they didn't approve of. Contrasting this to MS's "monopolistic" practice of simply giving away a shitty web browser (IE), neutered email client (outlook express), and the two worst word processors ever (notepad and wordpad) but, MS still allowed you to get Netscape, Eudora, and Wordperfect.

The reason why Steve doesn't want Flash is because it breaks his stranglehold on the mobile devices.

First Apple cannot abuse its monopoly position because it doesn't have one - the iPhone has 25% of the smart phone market - that's not a monopoly.

Secondly - why does Apple want to block Flash and the use of Flash based tools to create Apps outside of Apple's development framework and in a way that might allow cross platform development?

Part of the reason is that Flash is very poorly implemented - its a dog on the desktop and still (three years after the launch of the iPhone) Flash mobile is nowhere. Adobe dropped the ball on this one - badly. Apple isn't in business to help Adobe.

A much bigger, and more strategic reason that Apple wants to block flash based cross platform development from working on its mobile platform is to do with not losing control of that platform. There are very, very good reasons why Apple doesn't want to lose control and it has nothing to do with Steve Jobs personality and everything to do with what happened to Apple in the past. The best single paragraph summary of this I have seen is by Jean-Louis Gassée (ex Apple, ex BeOS etc). he said this:

"Who, in his right mind, expects Steve Jobs to let Adobe (and other) cross-platform application development tools control his (I mean the iPhone OS) future? Cross-platform tools dangle the old “write once, run everywhere” promise. But, by being cross-platform, they don’t use, they erase “uncommon” features. To Apple, this is anathema as it wants apps developers to use, to promote its differentiation. It’s that simple. Losing differentiation is death by low margins. It’s that simple. It’s business. Apple is right to keep control of its platform’s future."

the full article is here:

To understand some of the reasons why Apple is anxious to avoid seeding control of development on its mobile platform to a third party read this illuminating account of the sorry tale of MacBasic.

This story exactly illustrates the dangers Apple would face if it allowed third party cross platform developers to take control of its mobile platform.

Its always important when trying to understand why Apple and Steve Job's is doing something to remember just how long the company and he has been around. He and Apple have seen how things can go wrong in so many ways that they now have a laser sharp focus on not blowing it again.

"It's okay. The scenarios aren't that clear. But it's good looking. [Steve Jobs] does good design, and [the iPad] is absolutely a good example of that." -- Bill Gates on the Apple iPad

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