Norwegian browser company Opera Software has inked a multi-country deal with Vodafone for launching its Opera Mini 5 browser for 2G handsets in five countries – India, South Africa, Turkey, Tanzania and Egypt. Two things to note about the launch: Africa is believed to be primarily a data market, and in India, telecom operators are strongly pushing data access and packages as a differentiator.  What works for Opera Mini is that is significantly reduces data consumption costs (they claim to compress data by up to 90 percent), making it ideal for low bandwidth networks, or where data costs are high. Opera already has a deal with Tata Teleservices for Opera Mini in India (some data from that below). Note that Nokia recently acquired browser company Novarra.

The Opera Mini browser has been embedded in 20 devices, and supports around 250 GPRS handsets across Vodafone’s customer base. According to the release, “A range of Vodafone applications is also in development, most of them designed to deliver the most social benefits to users such as email, finding a job, buying and selling services and products, learning foreign languages, as well as getting access to global applications.” There’s no indication of which services will specifically be launched in India, and whether the launch will be in collaboration with Opera.

Mobile Access Data With Tata Indicom

While searching for more information on Opera Mini usage with Tata Indicom, we came across this case study (pdf) published by Opera. The case study is old, covering a period of November 2007 to December 2008. The Indian market has evolved significantly since then, with many telecom operators pushing data access with unlimited plans, mobile Internet specific top-ups, free access to social networking websites. But there’s very little data out there for us to be able get a sense of how things have changed. In that context, the findings published by Opera and Tata Indicom are still valid and noteworthy:


— Tata Teleservices had a conversion rate of 60 percent
— Both unique visitors and pageviews dropped after the promotional period, but gradually began increasing.
— Pageviews per user increased with time
— After the launch of the service, data usage and page views increased rapidly, particularly in the summer months, primarily due to promotional activities during the growth period, and the introduction of new handsets. Many users indicated that they used the service more during the summer holiday period.
— On Opera Mini, Tata users average a monthly data use rate of 30 to 35 MB
— Tata’s tariff structure encouraged usage: flat pricing, without data limits.

Download the case study here.

This is the same trend that one expects to be followed with 3G data services: it’s like the switch from dialup to broadband: when speed of access isn’t an issue anymore, data consumption will increase.

P.s.: If anyone from Opera or Tata Indicom is reading this, we’d love to publish updated trends, particularly from March 2009 to 2010.

Related:
Nokia Enters The Mobile Browser Space By Acquiring Novarra