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Opera, Microsoft, and the Mobile Browser Market

CowboyNeal posted more than 11 years ago | from the web-surfing-on-the-go dept.

Microsoft 245

DrEspenA writes "Salon has an interesting article on the competition for the mobile phone browser market. Ostensibly the article is about Microsoft's efforts to dominate the market, but the key protagonist is really Opera Software, which may be gaining the (initial) upper hand simply because they are not Microsoft. Good discussion of whether standards and familiarity really is necessary in the mobile browser market."

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fuck linus (-1)

Forsh (572618) | more than 11 years ago | (#4730631)

and his bitch ass followers

Mobile browsers? (3, Insightful)

minghe (441878) | more than 11 years ago | (#4730633)

Dammit. Make the moille screens decent first.

Re:Mobile browsers? (1)

trezor (555230) | more than 11 years ago | (#4730666)

People did use Lynx back in the old days, even if the puters didn't have decent screens.

With all that pr0n surfing going on, who needs decency in hardware anyway :)

Re:Mobile browsers? (4, Interesting)

Cheese Cracker (615402) | more than 11 years ago | (#4730705)

Dammit. Make the moille screens decent first.

You want to walk around with a clunky 15" screen? Well, not me. :) Mobile phones will not replace computers anytime soon for browsing the web, but the SSR (Small-Screen Rendering) is a step in the right direction. It will make it easier to browse websites in the mobile phone. No more need to scroll the screen sideways. Anyway, see the mobile browser as a complement rather than replacement for the real thing. :)

Re:Mobile browsers? (5, Insightful)

RAMMS+EIN (578166) | more than 11 years ago | (#4730763)

Actually I would suggest a different approach: make websites decent. For goodness's sake, it's not like mobile phone displays can't display text, and isn't that what hyperTEXT is all about? It's not the fault of hardware manufacturers that designers chose to assume that people have a certain screen size. If they hard-code the width of their pages as 800 pixels and their pages read like crap for someone who has less than that, it's the designers' fault, not anyone else's. It's a decission to make, and both ways have their merits and shortcomings.

Having said that, I don't think most mobile phones are good for web surfing. Reading short messages is ok, but massive amounts of text just do require painful amounts of scrolling on such a small display. Since I like to type, too, I'd rather go for a handheld like those Psion organizers, that have a landscape-oriented display with a fairly decent keyboard under it. If only their hardware wasn't incompatible with everyone else's (save for the styli and batteries) I would buy one (well, money is a concern, too). But that's not a phone, I know.

Anyway, more power to Opera. They've always delivered a great product, and although there seems to be a strong resistance to closed software from the hackers side, and a strong resistance against anything non-MicroSoft on the non-hacker side, I sincerely hope Opera doesn't go the way BeOS did, but either flourishes commercially or goes open-source before the bell tolls for them.

Re:Mobile browsers? (2, Funny)

gl4ss (559668) | more than 11 years ago | (#4730963)

try opera on zaurus..

will make you feel like getting one.. i guess i gotta sell my liver.

why no choice? (5, Insightful)

bluelip (123578) | more than 11 years ago | (#4730634)

Why can't I choose what browser I'd like to use?

Re:why no choice? (3, Informative)

Skiboo (306467) | more than 11 years ago | (#4730643)

Because there's only so many browsers you can fit into a mobile...

Re:why no choice? (0, Troll)

bluelip (123578) | more than 11 years ago | (#4730711)

That's horseshit! Storage is cheap nowadays. I should be able to plug in a compact flash card also if I need more storage. 200 phone #'s is NOT enough when you realize how inexpensive additional memory is.

Re:why no choice? (3, Funny)

cscx (541332) | more than 11 years ago | (#4730722)

You're not seeing the big picture: it's a fucking telephone.

Re:why no choice? (5, Insightful)

sirsnork (530512) | more than 11 years ago | (#4730832)

Storage may very well be cheap.. But in the mobile phone market the battery power to run that storage is perhaps the biggest factor for consumers buying phones.. Yeah you can store 500,000 numbers.. but sorry the battery only last 2 hours

Re:why no choice? (3, Insightful)

Mr Teddy Bear (540142) | more than 11 years ago | (#4730645)

If you really wanted to hack any of those cell phones then I am sure you could have a choice of any browser you wanted... (even Konqi or Mozilla if you really wanted it) but the fact is that most people don't know or care what browser they use. IE is only used by 98% of the market because it is bundled with windows, not because it is the best. (It may be the best or not, I don't care, but being the best has nothing to do with its success. Being better than crap is all it needed to be)

At any rate, there needs to be that default browser or else nobody will want to buy it because it is too hard (perceptions count here) for people to set up if they have to select what they want. Why? Because they simply don't know what they want. ;-)

Re:why no choice? (2)

wheany (460585) | more than 11 years ago | (#4730894)

It's an embedded device.

Singing Fat Ladies (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4730637)

Thank you.

Open Source? (3, Interesting)

Russellkhan (570824) | more than 11 years ago | (#4730640)

I guess Gecko is too big to fit a Mozilla based browser into a cell phone, but does anyone know if there are any efforts in the works to get an open source browser that could work in this application?

Re:Open Source? (5, Informative)

Mr Teddy Bear (540142) | more than 11 years ago | (#4730659)

Got Lynx? [browser.org]

What about Links? [mff.cuni.cz]

Re:Open Source? (5, Interesting)

Russellkhan (570824) | more than 11 years ago | (#4730683)

Good call. Forgot about those.

Only thing is, I bet the cell phone providers and manufacturers are getting paid to make sure that we can start viewing web ads on these phones ASAP.

Or is that just my paranoia talking?

Re:Open Source? (1)

Mr Teddy Bear (540142) | more than 11 years ago | (#4730698)

Only thing is, I bet the cell phone providers and manufacturers are getting paid to make sure that we can start viewing web ads on these phones ASAP.

You know, I bet if someone put their mind to it they could make a text based Flash reader. Granted, it wouldn't be able to show all the cool graphics (well, maybe some ANSI art, but you know) but isn't text stored in flash as text and not as vectors?

Maybe that would be the best thing to go for with these cell phones. Screw pictures lets go back to the good ol days of BBS's and ANSI art! :-)

Re:Open Source? (2, Interesting)

CaptainZapp (182233) | more than 11 years ago | (#4730950)

I bet the cell phone providers and manufacturers are getting paid to make sure that we can start viewing web ads on these phones ASAP.

Actually I don't think so. They have too much to lose:

First, mobile browsing is expensive. If my network provider stuffs my "browsing experience" with just one frigging add (for which I pay for) I'm off their network before they can say "herbal viagra".

Oh, you mean that I have no choice? Actually I have. I can chose not to mobile-browse at all (I have yet to see the usefulness of internet on the run) and use my mobile phone to make and receive calls only.

Re:Open Source? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4730854)

Lynx, I think, is kinda dead. The distro's keep it, but the "main project" is basically dead.

Links is a decent text browser. I know it has a graphical version, but I don't think I've see it before. I've seen a svgalib console browser in the past (2yrs ago or so) but I don't remember its name -- might have been links though I guess.

However, being mainly text browsers is their problem. If you take the average schmoe, they probably don't want a pure text browser. Besides, some sites just plain wont work with text-only browsers because they use a lot of imagemaps.

Maybe the "graphical" version of lynx could suffice.

However, don't forget about Konqueror with Qtopia. Symbios (updated Atheos) uses Konqueror and I think its with Qtopia. They could work on "larger" PDAs like the IPaq and Zarus.

Do we really want this? (3, Insightful)

91degrees (207121) | more than 11 years ago | (#4730646)

Surely all we need is a very simple system that can deal with sending short messages, possibly with links to other short messages.

I have no desire to read Slashdot through my phone thanks. I need a decent screen. I may want occasional bits and pieces of information, but this will be very short pieces of info like news headlines. Internet cellphones simply try to do far too much, and be far too much like a desktop PC.

Re:Do we really want this? (2, Informative)

oo7tushar (311912) | more than 11 years ago | (#4730661)

well...if AvantGo (avantgo.com I believe) provided a service for cell phones then it would work quite nicely for a lot of news pages. It basically works the same way browsing for a Blackberry works.
You send a page that you want to a central server which parses and formats it. It then sends it back to your phone and boom...you get images, text, links and everything. I use it for my Handspring all the time and it downloads many of my favorite sites...of course I wish it could compact Slashdot further but I think Cmdr Taco may have to talk to the AvantGo people about it.

Re:Do we really want this? (5, Interesting)

TummyX (84871) | more than 11 years ago | (#4730685)

Well if you don't need it don't buy it. If there isn't a need for it, noone will buy it and they'll stop making it.

Personally, I'd want to be able to google anywhere, anytime. Imagine the largest human library in existance accessible from a device that sits in your pocket.

Re:Do we really want this? (1)

91degrees (207121) | more than 11 years ago | (#4730714)

Well, that's the point isn't it. Most people are going to decide they don't want it, and therefore they won't buy it. Maybe I'm wrong, but really for things like google, I'd prefer something closer to the size of a palm pilot at minimum. Even if my entire phone was a screen, I'd not be able to get enough text there for efficient reading.

Re:Do we really want this? (5, Funny)

WhaDaYaKnow (563683) | more than 11 years ago | (#4730918)

Imagine the largest human library in existance accessible from a device that sits in your pocket.

Just so long as it has in large friendly letters "Don't Panic" on the cover.

Not me, but some might (2)

jawtheshark (198669) | more than 11 years ago | (#4730772)

While I agree that the whole "web on the phone" thing is something we don't really need, there are people that disagree with me, notably the Japanese. It's enterainment: we don't *need* entertainment but we want it and pay a lot for it.

I personally woudn't stand to have browse slashdot on my 4 square centimeter cellphone screen and most of the time I don't have use for it. However, what does happen is that when I'm really bored (or have to wait for a long time), I pull out my Psion Revo+ and download a complete comment page on Slashdot: hours of fun! Of course, the screen on my Psion is way larger than than a cellphone screen, but recent evolutions seem to integrate what we now know as PDA's and cellphones. This together with GPRS, could lead to more surfing on cellphones.
So the browser on the cellphone is important, not now, but we'll see it coming in the next years. And yes, on my Psion I use Opera and it rocks!

just as long as i can see pix... (0)

zonker (1158) | more than 11 years ago | (#4730844)

...of silly nordic ceo's walking around in viking helmets [google.com] preparing a raid on the cellphone market on that tiny screen...

but... (3, Interesting)

oo7tushar (311912) | more than 11 years ago | (#4730647)

Again, I don't trust Mozilla but on my Handspring I use EudoraWeb and I have one of those Wireless cards.

Also, I suspect that there's going to be some small companies somewhere and all the providers are going to pick a different company and we're going to end up with 3 or 4 small companies that MS is just gonna buy out and gain the upper hand with.

Re:but... (1, Interesting)

mackstann (586043) | more than 11 years ago | (#4730694)

just curious....what do you mean by you "don't trust Mozilla"?

Re:but... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4730723)

What part of I don't trust Mozilla don't you get?
I can hear the Homosexuals now " my new pink phone is powered by blackberries weeeee.."

Microsoft Will Win... (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4730654)

..If for nothing other than the fact they have a huge ad below this story =D.

nice (2, Interesting)

Make (95577) | more than 11 years ago | (#4730660)

nice too see that Opera took the chance to get into this new market. Of course, M$ now tries to displace them, like they did with Netscape years ago. I hope Opera gets the fair chance they deserve.

OTOH, I really wonder why it is so difficult for M$ to rule the mobile market - can you remember when you first heard about Windows CE? Not much happened in all the years, although M$ is throwing a lot of money at it.

The fact that Microsoft made 'bloated' their main (4, Funny)

trezor (555230) | more than 11 years ago | (#4730678)

It's probably difficult for Microsoft to rule the mobile-marked because they can't seem to find a cellphone with 256 MB of DDR-RAM and a 1 GHz CPU. Not to mention a physical-media like a harddrive for swapping when you are dialing long-distance numbers.

Re:The fact that Microsoft made 'bloated' their ma (1)

Russellkhan (570824) | more than 11 years ago | (#4730717)

Don't forget the fact that their mobile operating system's name was best shortened to WinCE.

Reminds me a bit of the horrible sales Chevrolet saw in Spanish speaking countries for their 'No va' ('Doesn't go' for those who know even less Spanish than me).

Re:nice (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4730706)

Displace? Don't you mean "increase competition?"

Re:nice (-1, Offtopic)

yatest5 (455123) | more than 11 years ago | (#4730754)

When you say M$ [penny-arcade.com] ....

Re:nice (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4730919)

Uh-oh, it'$ that ever-feared dollar $ign again!
You, $ir, are a po$er and a moron.

Not just anti-Microsoft (5, Insightful)

Mordac the Preventer (36096) | more than 11 years ago | (#4730669)

but the key protagonist is really Opera Software, which may be gaining the (initial) upper hand simply because they are not Microsoft.
You don't think it might be because Opera's browser is more suited to mobiles because it's less bloated?

Re:Not just anti-Microsoft (4, Informative)

StefMeister (219044) | more than 11 years ago | (#4730719)

Well, if you read the article you will see that they indeed say there are more reasons to choose Opera besides the "they're not MS"-argument. For example the fact that Symbian's OS for mobiles together with Opera is much more 'tweakable' and allows for more personalized software on the phones.

I guess they will (mainly) use the "Microsoft is an evil monopoly"-argument to convince the businness-guys and the other arguments for the tech guys.

Re:Not just anti-Microsoft (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4730865)

but the key protagonist is really Opera Software, which may be gaining the (initial) upper hand simply because they are not Microsoft.

You don't think it might be because Opera's browser is more suited to mobiles because it's less bloated?

No, I think that "not Microsoft" is a very strong reason for Ericcson, Nokia, etc. to use Opera, even if the Microsoft solution was better.

As we all know, Microsoft has been very successful in the PC world. They bascially dictate to the PC manufacturers what to do to a huge extent - not just technically, but from a marketing perspective too. If, for instance, Dell wanted to sell a Harry Potter themed PC, Microsoft can say no (and have done). Do you think the mobile phone companies want to be in that situation? Do you think they want their products to become commodities with cut-throat margins upon which Microsoft add software with huge margins and upon which they can dictate the price?

I'm not saying this because I am an anti-Microsoft zealot, but because I can really see the business sense of the mobile phone companies not having anything to do with Microsoft. This is one of the biggest problems Microsoft currently faces - the market is moving away from PCs to smaller form devices, and the manufacturers don't want anything to do with Microsoft. This is why we will see Microsoft increasingly experimenting with it's own hardware, like the X-Box. Don't be suprised if you find a Microsoft branded mobile phone released sometime in the next couple of years.

Now! In selected European countries (5, Informative)

CaptainZapp (182233) | more than 11 years ago | (#4730975)

Don't be suprised if you find a Microsoft branded mobile phone released sometime in the next couple of years.

Too late. It's [orange.ch] on the market since about a week in selected European countries.

The phone is manufactured for Microsoft and sold exclusively through a deal with Orange.

If it is a success, now that's a whole different question. I guess people prefer not having to reboot their phones.

Re:Not just anti-Microsoft (1, Redundant)

pubjames (468013) | more than 11 years ago | (#4730875)

but the key protagonist is really Opera Software, which may be gaining the (initial) upper hand simply because they are not Microsoft.

You don't think it might be because Opera's browser is more suited to mobiles because it's less bloated?

No, I think that "not Microsoft" is a very strong reason for Ericcson, Nokia, etc. to use Opera, even if the Microsoft solution was better.

As we all know, Microsoft has been very successful in the PC world. They bascially dictate to the PC manufacturers what to do to a huge extent - not just technically, but from a marketing perspective too. If, for instance, Dell wanted to sell a Harry Potter themed PC, Microsoft can say no (and have done). Do you think the mobile phone companies want to be in that situation? Do you think they want their products to become commodities with cut-throat margins upon which Microsoft add software with huge margins and upon which they can dictate the price?

I'm not saying this because I am an anti-Microsoft zealot, but because I can really see the business sense of the mobile phone companies not having anything to do with Microsoft. This is one of the biggest problems Microsoft currently faces - the market is moving away from PCs to smaller form devices, and the manufacturers don't want anything to do with Microsoft. This is why we will see Microsoft increasingly experimenting with it's own hardware, like the X-Box. Don't be suprised if you find a Microsoft branded mobile phone released sometime in the next couple of years.

Re:Not just anti-Microsoft (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4730903)

Nosferatu Man

I live in a castle
I am a prince
On days I try
To please my queen

Soon as I start to smile
My smiling queen
Who sits across the table
By the food she made

Like a bat I flushed the girl
And I flew out my back door
And I came to no one no more

She ran without glances
And railed like a red coal train
She ran without glances
And railed like a red coal train

Eyelids are open
When the sun is high
I slip away from my queen's
Grey stare

I can be settled down
and be doing just fine
Until I heard that old train
Rolling down the line

With the light she disappeared
And set me in a whirl
And i hope that beautiful girl

I set a fire burning
And I railed on through the night
I set a fire burning
And I railed on through the night

She peeked around the corner
She offered me her hand
My teeth touched her skin
Then she was gone again

Now my queen is fine
In her early grave
After that girl I'll keep her warm
there's nothing more to save

Re:Not just anti-Microsoft (3, Informative)

Nomad37 (582970) | more than 11 years ago | (#4730929)

That quote is actually from the article (last page) where it talks about the fact that most mobile manufacturers are impressed with Opera just because they're surviving against MS, and as another poster has pointed out, because of MS' licensing deals being ridiculously restrictive...

Opera is just better period. Also not MS. (2, Interesting)

2ms (232331) | more than 11 years ago | (#4730977)

The article actually says that Opera does better job of displaying web pages too. They show example of Opera displaying standard and popular web site (designed for large screens) very nicely on a small screen. They describe how mobile IE displays the same page much less nicely, requiring lots of scrolling.

So, in addition to being leaner, Opera is also impressing with superior results at displaying on small screens. The fact that it's not MS is just icing on the cake -- certainly not the main attraction.

Give me speed first! (5, Insightful)

kitsook (516402) | more than 11 years ago | (#4730675)

... why would i need a browser when gprs is so expensive and slow?

Re:Give me speed first! (3, Insightful)

yatest5 (455123) | more than 11 years ago | (#4730766)

... why would i need a browser when gprs is so expensive and slow?

Don't put the cart before the horse! Until there is widespread need for the speed there is no encouragement to the networks to invest in their infrasturcture. Take the internet as an example - its been slow and crap for year, but now the plebs want streaming movies broadband is breaking out all over the place...

Re:Give me speed first! (2)

BrookHarty (9119) | more than 11 years ago | (#4730860)

Raw GPRS is expensive, early adopters pay the higher prices, the prices have been dropping for wireless data every month. Unlimited plans for everything comes out someday.

Also, some Carriers use compression proxy servers, that can give you incredible speed, but you need to use the client software.

BTW, Why would I need a wireless phone? Phone booths are everywhere! Oh wait, that was 20 years ago...

A smartphone needs familiarity, A cellphone not! (5, Insightful)

krazyninja (447747) | more than 11 years ago | (#4730676)

Standards and familiarity would not be necessary, as long as people (ok, the majority of the people) tend to use the cellphone AS A cellphone. The moment you start to talk about a cellphone being used a mail client, a pocket computer, a storage device, and other "miniature" PC applications, then standards and familiarity become a must. The point is, nobody knows the market yet. Some analysts say, one device for one function is the best, some say a do-it-all device is better. And the market has not said anything yet.

Normal cellphones? (5, Interesting)

jawtheshark (198669) | more than 11 years ago | (#4730815)

Depends on where you live. I have a cellphone but I rarely use it to talk. Main usage is SMS (chicks love getting sweet SMS'es). Many people, mostly 12 to 25 years olds, exclusively use their cellphones for SMS. Talking? Yes, probably on fridaynight and saturdaynight to meet and it's SMS the rest of the time. So in a sense you could see SMS as Instant Messaging and thus like a classic PC application.
Also games are very popular on cells too. While I do not see the appeal, many seem to. I bought the most "business-like" phone I found, yet it still comes with 3 games. It's getting pretty hard to find "just a cellphone" without all the bloat. Try to find me a cellphone without Games, Calendar, Downloadable songs, on-screen animations, WAP, iMode or anything that doesn't belong on a cellphone. Only a contact list, talking function and SMS function... Find me such a beast and I'll agree there still are "just cellphones".

Besides, don't forget the Japanese. They surely seem to love iMode and they fancy cellphones.

But I love my brands! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4730681)

"If Windows is allowed to become the dominant brand in cellphones, the handset industry could go the way of the PC industry -- in which hardware is considered an interchangeable, brand-less commodity. Now wouldn't that be horrible! *thinly veiled sarcasm*

Re:But I love my brands! (1)

Greger47 (516305) | more than 11 years ago | (#4730851)


Good point, I'd love to have commodity cell-phones to, but I don't want the Microsoft OS monopoly that would inevitably follow.

Re:But I love my brands! (1)

onenil (624773) | more than 11 years ago | (#4730861)

Isn't everything branded as "Microsoft" these days?

More of a design issue (5, Insightful)

dsanfte (443781) | more than 11 years ago | (#4730684)

Personally I always found browsing on WinCE mobile PCs to be complicated by the fact that the browser itself likes to take up a good 35% of the screen space. Packing features in is great guys, but the first browser to give a sense of utility without making me feel like I'm browsing the net through a keyhole is the one that gets my money.

Re:More of a design issue (2)

Big Mark (575945) | more than 11 years ago | (#4730891)

Yes. I use Phoenix on my proper PC as it allows me to use most of my screen space for browsing. From the top down I've got: the topbar, the menubar, the tab-bar (tabar?), what I'm looking at, the bottom of the screen.

The tabar would be redundant on mobiles as well, as who's going to do more than just read the news or mail on a mobile?

Of course, if a similar solution was to be implemented on mobiles you would have to require that the users learn the mouse gestures or something. And considering what technology imbeciles most users are, that's not going to happen. Again, the massed incompetance of people using technology gets in the way of the technology being efficent to use.

And I don't buy that "technology should be easy to use in the first instance" argument. It's like saying you should be able to drive cars from the first second you're strapped into the driver's seat. If people in general were willing to spend an hour or two (phones are MUCH easier to use than cars are. How many drving lessons did YOU need?) learning how something new works they would save more time than that in a week, never mind a year.

-Mark

FUCK THE MPAA RIAA AND MICROSOFT (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4730686)

They all suck royal ass

Talking about mobile browsers (5, Interesting)

jki (624756) | more than 11 years ago | (#4730692)

If you are like me and your mobile browser does not come with a highbandwidth access, you might benefit from this Openchallenge submission/implementation [openchallenge.org] from yesterday (not originally crafted for openchallenge). I tried it, and will add it to my toolbox.

ziproxy is a forwarding (non-caching) proxy that gzips text and HTML files, and reduces the size of images by converting them to low quality JPEGs. It is intended to increase the speed for dial-up Internet connections. Most browsers support gzipped content, so Web pages appear as normal, but as they are only a fraction of their original page size, pages are much quicker to load. Even for browsers that don't support it, hints how to overcome it using SSH port forwarding are included. Images are reduced in size by an average of one third, with only marginal visible image quality loss. It should be used with inetd/xinetd, but if you can't use them, a simple replacement "netd" is provided.

Re:Talking about mobile browsers (2)

dago (25724) | more than 11 years ago | (#4730735)

just FYI, most european mobile operators (or at least the one I know) have such systems in place (commercial ones).

You can even choose the quality of the images you want and if you want images.

Re:Talking about mobile browsers (2)

jki (624756) | more than 11 years ago | (#4730749)

just FYI, most european mobile operators (or at least the one I know) have such systems in place (commercial ones).

Yeah - I know. I am actually from Europe myself :) The reason why I took this to instant use is that this way I can set a personal proxy for this and have full control of it. I also think it should work quicker, as the performance of the proxy is not affected by others. But surely, there is need for the commercial ones too :)

Small screen rendering (5, Informative)

Mr_Silver (213637) | more than 11 years ago | (#4730693)

In Opera, engineers have solved the scrolling problem with something they call "small-screen rendering," in which HTML code is "massaged," von Tetzchner says, "so that it can fit on the screen." The results are intriguing; by examining the structure of the page, the browser produces a small-screen version that includes all the important content but requires only vertical scrolling.

Am I the only one that thought that this wasn't particulary unque? Hell, Lynx has been doing it with text for ages and AvantGo (with "display tables" turned off) does exactly the same thing.

Whilst the Opera guy may think that the browser war is hotting up (he's wrong, MS have won, everything else is relegated to the niche position and always will be - there are far too many Joe Blow users out there), they are definately onto a winner in the mobile arena.

Oh finally, for those that don't know, Sendo are not a well known manufacturer of mobile phones here in the UK. The reason being is that they don't sell under their own brand. Their business model is to create cheap network operator branded phones and for that, they do pretty well.

Re:Small screen rendering (5, Informative)

trezor (555230) | more than 11 years ago | (#4730795)

  • Am I the only one that thought that this wasn't particulary unque? Hell, Lynx has been doing it with text for ages and AvantGo (with "display tables" turned off) does exactly the same thing.

This is different. While Lynx just plainly ignores html-table-tags and replaces them with linebreaks, this Opera thingy is actually doing reformatting of the page, after a full analysis of the layout.

Even though I don't know how well this works, it seems like a extremely clever algoritm, and shouldn't be underestimated as simple table-dropping, which is actually a lack of standard features.

From the opera-quote:

  • "massaged," von Tetzchner says, "so that it can fit on the screen."

This implies more than mere table-dropping to me at least, and especially if you read the press release (no I will nothunt it down for you).

Re:Small screen rendering (2)

cymen (8178) | more than 11 years ago | (#4730852)

Also we had a /. story on Opera's "make it tiny" for the portable display a while back. I don't feel like hunting anything down either...

Re:Small screen rendering (3, Informative)

WhaDaYaKnow (563683) | more than 11 years ago | (#4730886)

Hell, Lynx has been doing it with text for ages

You are joking, right?

Rendering HTML in text mode is one thing. Add CSS, Javascript, DOM etc and it's an whole nother story.

I'm not saying that all these technologies are so great, but a large amount of sites rely on it today. Being able to render a document that contains all that stuff properly is unique by itself. There are only a handful of browsers that can get close.

What Opera does is difficult because not only are they trying to support all these technologies, but they also have to deal with these other trivialities that Lynx can conveniently ignore, called graphics/images.

UI Customization (5, Interesting)

ensignyu (417022) | more than 11 years ago | (#4730701)

The article has quite an emphasis on companies being able to customize the appearance of the software UI. I'm not a smartphone user, but I don't think the screen appearance has nearly as much glamour/show-off appeal as chic faceplates and such.

My opinion is that Opera's supposed smart "massaging," also mentioned in the article, will be hailed as easier to use than Microsoft's Pocket IE, and thus play a larger end-user role than vendor customizing.

Although, it is nice to see vendors say that the Windows UI is bland, ubiquitous, and doesn't possess the uniqueness that Nokia et al. want.

Business deals and positive/negative corporate assocations usually trump user comments and design staff, IMO, but not always.

Standards, uh? (4, Informative)

RAMMS+EIN (578166) | more than 11 years ago | (#4730724)

``Good discussion of whether standards and familiarity really is necessary in the mobile browser market.''
What standards? Do you mean the de-facto standard for desktop computers (MicroSoft), or the vendor-independent web standards, which Opera has traditionally supported like no other?

---
``The nice thing about standards is that there are so many of them to choose from; furthermore, if you do not like any of them, you can just wait for next year's model.''
-- Andrew S. Tannenbaum

Bad Reasoning... (5, Insightful)

NanoGator (522640) | more than 11 years ago | (#4730727)

"...which may be gaining the (initial) upper hand simply because they are not Microsoft. "

Err right. That might be true in the /. Community, but the reality is that the vast majority of people either really don't care. Outside of Slashot, the real world isn't exactly vindictive against MS. Not everybody's running around being masochistic just for the sake not using MS stuff. "I spent 3 weeks making my Linux box do whatever my Windows box was already doing!" Whatever.

The reason that Opera could be gaining ground is that they made a good product. That's it. Even in the mobile market. I got a chance to use a Zaurus running Opera, and found it to be a rather pleasant experience. It definitely kicked IE on PocketPC's butt.

However, I'm not exactly picketing Opera to make a PocketPC version. Why? I don't browse the web on my PocketPC. It's a horrible experience. Not because IE is bad (although it is, at least for browsing the web) but because the PDA doesn't give you the resolution and speed you need. It works great with Avantgo, though. No complaints there. With AvantGo, the pages are formatted to PocketPC. As long as I have AvantGo (even works wirelessly), then I don't care if it's Opera or IE, or even Mozilla.

Opera doesn't have a whole lot of chance of gaining ground until PDAs become capable of viewing entire web pages. I don't think that tech is very far away. LCD technology has gotten a lot better in the DPI realm. It won't be more than a year or two before those tiny devices can run at 480 by 640. When that happens, Opera suddenly becomes an interesting alternative.

It's a pity, really. I think Opera deserves more attention on /. than Mozilla as an MS browser alternative. Zealousy abounds I guess. I say that because the only ding I can see against Opera is that it's Ad-supported. I'd care except they show cartoons in that banner window. Heh.

Re:Bad Reasoning... (1)

nefar (224447) | more than 11 years ago | (#4730834)

"...which may be gaining the (initial) upper hand simply because they are not Microsoft. "

Err right. That might be true in the /. Community, but the reality is that the vast majority of people either really don't care. Outside of Slashot, the real world isn't exactly vindictive against MS.


Err Wrong. Opera isn't trying to win consumer mobile browser market as there is no such market. Opera is trying to get mobile phone manufacturers to use their product. And if you think of Nokia et al. they most certainly are going to pick non-Microsoft software for their terminals, mainly because it is not Microsoft's.

Re:Bad Reasoning... (4, Insightful)

nagora (177841) | more than 11 years ago | (#4730840)

Err right. That might be true in the /. Community, but the reality is that the vast majority of people either really don't care.

That's a consumer argument. System sellers, i.e. the phone manufacturers, have seen what happened to IBM when they made the mistake of allowing MS to control the "user experience" and they don't want it to happen to them.

As it happens, Opera is a very good browser anyway. If it was open source it would get more support and would develop faster.

TWW

Re:Bad Reasoning... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4730873)

Yes, and if Opera was open source, maybe wheel mice and double click tab closure would work in beta 7.

Nice browser, horrible User Interface.

Re:Bad Reasoning... (0, Flamebait)

yatest5 (455123) | more than 11 years ago | (#4730889)

As it happens, Opera is a very good browser anyway. If it was open source it would get more support and would develop faster.

Yes, and I wouldn't get paid to work on it. You dumb cunt.

Re:Bad Reasoning... (3, Insightful)

Russellkhan (570824) | more than 11 years ago | (#4730862)

Err right. That might be true in the /. Community, but the reality is that the vast majority of people either really don't care. Outside of Slashot, the real world isn't exactly vindictive against MS. Not everybody's running around being masochistic just for the sake not using MS stuff. "I spent 3 weeks making my Linux box do whatever my Windows box was already doing!" Whatever.


Actually, if you'd read the article, you'd have seen that the advantage Opera has in not being a MS product is that the MS browser will only run on a phone that has an MS operating system - and not many cell phone manufacturers are interested in going for that option at this point.

It's a pity, really. I think Opera deserves more attention on /. than Mozilla as an MS browser alternative. Zealousy abounds I guess. I say that because the only ding I can see against Opera is that it's Ad-supported. I'd care except they show cartoons in that banner window. Heh.


Why exactly does Opera deserve more attention than Mozilla? Having only one ding against it doesn't make it better unless you're saying that Mozilla has more dings against it. And the way I see it, Mozilla has several advantages over Opera:
  • It's Open Source, so it's not just a browser, it's the basis of several different browsers
  • It's free - without ads (If I want cartoons, I'd rather go someplace like OddTodd [oddtodd.com] where I choose what to watch and when I'm going to watch it)
  • It's freely distributable so I can give a copy to my friends without worrying about legality
  • It has better support for web standards

Re:Bad Reasoning... (2)

cymen (8178) | more than 11 years ago | (#4730872)

It's a pity, really. I think Opera deserves more attention on /. than Mozilla as an MS browser alternative. Zealousy abounds I guess. I say that because the only ding I can see against Opera is that it's Ad-supported. I'd care except they show cartoons in that banner window. Heh.


Wait... Wait... DING! DING! DING! Must be that open source ding making itself known. But who would expect it on /.?

Personally I have Opera loaded, and used it for a couple websites when Mozilla wasn't working with them, but these days Mozilla doesn't seem to have nearly as many problems and, to boot, it has been getting faster. The speed difference was apparent when I upgraded from my month old nightly build to 2002112008. The speed feel is about 1/2 between Phoenix (fast) and the month old Mozilla (sluggish). Sweet...

Re:Bad Reasoning... (3, Informative)

WhaDaYaKnow (563683) | more than 11 years ago | (#4730904)

It won't be more than a year or two before those tiny devices can run at 480 by 640

About two years ago, my wife brought home the prototype of a PDA/cell phone thingy. (the day before Andy Grove had showed the exact device at a wireless conference; I still wonder how she got a hold of it :-O) I can't remember the name, but it was once covered here on /. I believe it may have been a Korean company. (that really narrows it down, I know...)

Anyways, this thing had a 640x480 display and the device itself wasn't really bigger than say an iPaq. The most amazing thing was that it _actually_ worked. The built in phone worked fine and browsing was actually quite acceptable. The only thing that didn't work was the bluetooth pen that was supposed to double as the earpiece.

Well, I was very impressed to see the device that I had always wanted and had dreamed of. So I played with it for at least 5 minutes, thought 'ok, it can be done', and went back to doing fun stuff.

Geeks-1; Entrenched Phone Companies-0 (1)

deathcloset (626704) | more than 11 years ago | (#4730732)

"Von Tetzchner, for example, says that phone makers are deathly scared of Microsoft because they know the company's history: If Windows is allowed to become the dominant brand in cellphones, the handset industry could go the way of the PC industry -- in which hardware is considered an interchangeable, brand-less commodity Wow, Microsoft being responsible for the standardization of smart phone hardware. "Who are you!? And what did you do with my dark overloard Bill Gates!?"

Regarding the Symbian OS... (2, Offtopic)

Jugalator (259273) | more than 11 years ago | (#4730737)

I was unfortunate enough to hear about the "sybian" (www.sybian.com [sybian.com] -- don't watch if your boss is behind you or you'll find yourself in a funny situation) before the Symbian OS. So you can guess what I think of every time I hear about "Symbian"...

Apparently, others [google.com] has had the same thoughts as me and the comments from Psion is amusing. ;-)

Microsoft is throwing money down a hole. (0)

hvatum (592775) | more than 11 years ago | (#4730740)

Although Microsoft can sustain their money loosing efforts in the Mobile market, Xbox effort, .Net effort, and PVR market they won't be able to do this forever. There is a limit to the amount of money they can loose. And if Openoffice manages to cut off their profit in the Office software area, then Microsoft will have lost one of their core cash cows. This would slowly cut off the needed resources to maintain their other Tech offensives. I think Bill Gates is like Hitler, Napoleon, or Alexander the great - take your pick. He just doesn't know when to stop starting wars with new companies (countries). Eventually he will find himself 30 kilometers outside of Moscow without a Jacket.

Re:Microsoft is throwing money down a hole. (0)

hvatum (592775) | more than 11 years ago | (#4730744)

What I meant by this is that Microsoft hasn't earned any money on any of these Efforts, including Mobile phones.

Probably... (4, Insightful)

jaseuk (217780) | more than 11 years ago | (#4730741)

[i]Can phone makers, and a little Norwegian company called Opera, stop the onslaught?[/i]

My experience with Scandanavian companies is that they like to stick together. They would much rather deal with someone close by or at least in the European Region.

This gives Opera another leg up, as Nokia and Ericson are in the same region.

Jason

There's already a leader (3, Informative)

Tsk (2863) | more than 11 years ago | (#4730742)

on that market, and that leader is Openwave [openwave.com] .

Their solution is already selling millions a month.

The real question is will people use smart phones to browse the web.

Re:There's already a leader (1)

RyoSaeba (627522) | more than 11 years ago | (#4730787)

The real question is will people use smart phones to browse the web.
Hey, never noticed that technology companies try to push things that people will never use ?
Ok, maybe it'd be cool to use your 'phone' to browse the web, buy wont PDA do that even better ? And do you really need that functionality ?
Hell, after all why wouldn't cellphones & PDA merge together....

Small Screen Rendering in Opera Beta 7 (5, Interesting)

Hairy Goat (184134) | more than 11 years ago | (#4730747)

Opera seems to be taking this market a little more seriously....

The latest beta (version 7) has the ability to render the screen as if viewed on a small screen (press shift-F11 to toggle the view)... This makes testing instantly easier.

I just love the opera browser (mouse gestures, tabbed browsing..etc) and have gladly payed for the privilage since opera 5, but thats just my choice..isn't that what this is about.

There is no way that IE has the market tied down at the moment because they don't control the platform that it sits on. This will be a much better test of browser preference than the artificial desktop browser choice, because MS don't control the platform (symbian platform that is)

Microsoft vs Opera (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4730748)

How come Microsoft is not standard-complaint in its browser. Internet Explorer supports the standards better than any other browser out there. In addition they have pretty useful addons which must be standard, will be standard. I used those addons and they are life-savers for me. However everybody cry foul instead of trying to implement those features. When it comes to standards Microsoft is the best out there.

familiar look and feel? (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4730757)

Clippy: I see your trying to make an emergency phone call...
User: Dammit, my cellphone bluescreened again!
Slashdot user: I bet I could h4x0R the modem and form a cellphone beowulf cluster, but someone said ??? = PROFIT! and then all the cellphones belonged to Bill...

Opera is bloatware (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4730758)

It ain't over until the fat lady sings and the fat lady is a fucken big cow.

Fuck Opera.

Go the Lizard.

Fuck IE.

Fuck the moderators. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4730796)

You guys are nazi scum.

If I saw you on the street I'd probably fucken knock your heads off.

Fuck you.

Well here is a bloody goatse link.

Blow me [goatse.cx]

Mobile browser market? (1)

Anonymous MadCoe (613739) | more than 11 years ago | (#4730778)

Maybe the forecasts from the people that brought us the "new economy", the mobile market is not that big (yet). At the moment the mobile Internet market is not that big.

World domination (1)

LucidBeast (601749) | more than 11 years ago | (#4730779)

If you buy a PC that costs about $1500, Microsoft grabs £300 from that (according to their recent accounting breakdown) for an operating system that cost them $15 to make. That would mean that in the future when you buy a phone like mine it would cost instead of $700 closer to $1000 if Microsoft would gain market monopoly. On the other hand there will be consolidation of the current handset makers, but enjoy now for the next 5 years of truly competiting markets, until two or three take over and form a cartel or a software vendor like Microsoft becomes the dominant force.

Opera's Small-Screen Rendering (5, Interesting)

CiaranMc (149798) | more than 11 years ago | (#4730783)

If you want to test Opera's small-screen technology, download the Opera 7 beta from www.opera.com [opera.com] .

Then hit Shift-F11 to put it in small-screen mode.

From playing with this for a while, it seems to be really very clever about what information it keeps and what it throws away. Browsing Slashdot, for instance, is very useable.

Also, the cellphone version supposedly retains the ability to zoom in on areas of the page you want to see in more detail.

The Ericsson P800 and Nokia 3650 will both probably be able to run Opera. Opera's site says they have a version for Symbian OS, but that the only current Symbian handset, the Nokia 7650, doesn't quite have enough memory to run it.

-Ciaran

As for Opera's "small screen rendering" (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4730803)

Mozilla does it better [glazman.free.fr] - and using nothing more than a stylesheet. (Note, that entry describes how to do this with a bit of javascript, but a few days later he was able to do it with only css.)

Admittedly, for such purposes Mozilla's huge amount of features is a wee bit overkill, but Phoenix might just be lean enough, and otherwise it's still possible to only embed the gecko-engine, adding a very minimal front-end.

This reminds me, (3, Insightful)

NetGyver (201322) | more than 11 years ago | (#4730816)

Of an old PC magizine ad i saw for a laptop. It was a black and white picture of Napoleon standing with his hand tucked benieth his military jacket. The caption benieth said: "It's always the little ones who try to take on the world."

In essence, that's where Opera stands as they have a lot of potential to be a dominating web-browsing force on the cellphone platform -- If they play their cards right.

A line from the article struck me odd.

"Microsoft's browser will work only on phones powered by Microsoft's cellphone operating system"

This shouldn't be surprising but just *read* that sentance. A cellphone operating system? At least to the laymen like myself, it seems kind of outlandish. But it also gives a clue to what microsoft is aiming for. It's not enough that they want to to be #1 and the only provider of a celphone broswer. That's understandable, just like Opera's motives. But to SHOVE a whole MS operating system in there in the process only reeks of shit that you've all heard before.

A phone, like a pair of shoes or a car, and unlike a PC or a coffeemaker, is a personal device, a fashion accessory that says something about its owner.

Yeah, it says "Hey! look at me with my default and super annoying ringtone that everyone hates so much. I'd love to talk but I gotta kick some ass in this fighting game that's causing my vision to blur, which makes it hard when i'm driving while talking on my cellphone..Ow, and this tumor on my head is really itchy, God and the buttons are so...*CLICK*

(I happen to be an owner of a cellphone :)

Phone vendors are sniffing at the PDA market (4, Interesting)

biglig2 (89374) | more than 11 years ago | (#4730864)

Modern phones are creeping towards PDA functionality - browsers, email, contaxt storage, etc.

Basically the dilema is that a PDA should be PDA sized, and a phone should be phone shaped, and these are different shapes. The Treo tries to find a middle ground, and doesn't do too badly, but I still prefer the two-device model, where my phone and Palm are seperate but can talk to each other easily (thru bluetooth, etc.)

the last thing i need in life... (0)

zonker (1158) | more than 11 years ago | (#4730869)

"He's right about that -- but the phone is still unmistakably a Windows phone. You just need to look at a couple of screenshots for proof. There are the familiar Windows icons and Windows software. When you need to chat with someone, you load up MSN Messenger. When the phone is busy, the Windows hourglass icon pops up.

In fact, familiarity is one of Microsoft's key selling points. "If you have used Microsoft Windows before, then you will be very familiar with the new Smartphone 2002," reads the ad copy on Microsoft's smart-phone page. "You will recognize the interface and programs, and the Smartphone extends the reach of the PC experience by allowing you to access the same applications, information and services and use the same profiles and login accounts you have set up on your home or work PC."
"

shit, that's the last thing i need. my girlfriend's old phone crashed about once a week until it finally gave up the ghost and she returned it and moved up to a better model. phones should be as reliable and easy to use as a toaster. i don't want to read a manual to learn how to use it or have to call tech support when the damned thing doesn't work. ooh, i don't even want to think about it.

Operas SSB is nice, I will miss them...... (3)

Savage-Rabbit (308260) | more than 11 years ago | (#4730884)

Having seen Operas SCB (Small Screen Browser) I think it is really rather ingenious. This is alot better than any other attempt to expand the usefulness of GSM telephones and that includes services that use SMS to implement a browser system, WAP and iMode. The Opera SSB parses HTML files to make them easyer to render on a small screen. I have seen the thing work I think that this solution is pretty because it does not require you to make any changes to your site and even when the SSB fails to parse a website properly it is easyer to create a new simplified SSB version of the site using HTML and other standard technologies than it is to create a special site using WAP or iMode. I have do have my doubts about how easy it will be to deal with frames pages or pages that are heavy on graphics.

What this new Opera small screen technology really does is to make it easyer to create webcontent aimed at GSM phone users and palmtop users, lets not forget them. To be able to create HTML based webcontent kicks the ass off of iMode and WAP because it is much easyer to, say create a Smallscreen version of your website in a proper web design package like for example Dreamweaver or perhaps by using XML and Style sheets than it is to create a WAP version from existing HTML material. I would be alot happyer creating two different versions of my site using some Library function in Dreamweaver for storing the content and displaying it in different HTML templates enabling me to make changes to both versions at the same time than I would be to create a WAP version since it would be harder to keep it current.

That being said I will miss Opera when Microsoft stomps them into the ground and dances a Seattle folk dance on Operas mangled corpse.

Microsoft is actualy quite small (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4730905)

Who has the largest market share when it comes to browsers for mobile phones? You probably don't know because you never see their brand. If you don't count all the Nokias out there the major player is AU-system [ausystem.com] . So if you're not using a Nokia and you don't have an expensive EPOC based phone you probably have the "AU Mobile Suite" in your phone. There are a few other suppliers, but Microsoft is actualy quite small. :-)

fastest ever (2, Insightful)

nuckin futs (574289) | more than 11 years ago | (#4730922)

with current mobile connection speeds topping out at 128kbps, maybe the best browser to have on a mobile device is lynx.

Very fetching (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4730931)

Opera Software does have a tasteful website.

Small scren rendering on Desktop (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4730937)

Get the Opera 7 Beta 1 from www.opera.com. It supports "small screen rendering", so you can test the experience (and your own site, web designers take note!). Somewhat quirky with frames right now, but a step in the right direction.

Microsoft's APIs don't do for Sendo (5, Funny)

Bas_Wijnen (523957) | more than 11 years ago | (#4730948)

On Sendo's leaving Microsoft and using Symbian, where they get the source and are allowed to tweak with it:

Was it a technology problem -- did Microsoft's software work? "It was a not a technology issue," she said. "I cannot go into all the details about it, but our business model is to offer very customized phones so they have something to distinguish themselves in the marketplace, which we cannot offer if we don't have the source code."

Microsoft dismissed this explanation. In an e-mail, Suwanjindar said that Microsoft's "shared source" model "provides partners with the APIs [application programming interfaces] they need in order to customize and develop applications for our platform."

Sendo: We don't like your deal, it isn't flexible enough.
Microsoft: We'll give you our API's.
Sendo: API's aren't as flexible as the full source code.
Microsoft (handwaving): API's will do.
Sendo: No, they won't.
Microsoft (handwaving again): APIs will do.
Sendo: No, they won't! You think you're some kind of jedi, waving your hand like that?

I saw a great... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4730966)

show on Opera...

Oh never mind
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