Airtel and Opera Software have signed a global deal to offer a customized Opera Mini mobile web browser to its subscribers across India, South Asia and Africa. Following the deal, a co-branded version of the browser will be availble for Airtel mobile subscribers. Opera had earlier inked a similar deal with Idea, Tata Indicom and MTS in India, and Vodafone in India, South Africa, Turkey, Tanzania and Egypt, to push its browser. The browser will now be offered on Airtel’s own app store, App Central.

At the time of writing this post, we tried using Opera Mini 7.0 on a Nokia E5 with an Airtel connection and found that it offered shortcuts to Airtel Live, Airtel Selfcare, Airtel.com and Airtel’s Mobile Gaming pages on the Home and on the Speed Dial tab. It’s interesting to note that shortcuts for the Airtel Live and Airtel App Store have been present on versions of the Opera mobile browser since February.

  

How these deals work in favour of telcos: Opera Mini significantly reduces data consumption costs since it claims to compress data by up to 90 percent, making it ideal for low bandwidth networks, or in places where data costs are high. So telcos, benefit from increased data consumption, since subscribers who were not data customers earlier, start using the browser on the premise that data costs would not burn a whole in their pockets. These new users get included among subscribers contributing to data revenue. On the other hand, telcos that offer a large amount of data allowance specially on Edge- for example Rs 98 for 2GB or Unlimited, benefit from low data consumption due to compression.

We also believe that a co-branded browser would also offer the operator’s bookmarks and links through its speed dial buttons, aiding discovery of on-deck mobile web services such as mobile tv, app stores, and other operator portals across its user base.

How’s Opera doing on Android? We wonder how Opera’s doing on Android given that last month’s ‘top-10 handsets in India for Opera Mini use’ list, doesn’t feature any Android handset.We do know that India is still a feature phone dominated market but we feel that Android users are likely to use more data in comparison to feature phone users. Android smartphones are gaining marketshare with Indian handset OEMs and telcos pushing sub-Rs 5,000 smartphones in the market. However, Android phones come with their own webkit based browser , which is the default option, and offers a more desktop-like browsing experience, albeit consuming more data. We feel that tie-ups with Android OEMs might help Opera in increasing its user base on the platform. Perhaps operators can offer special subsidized plans for Opera users to promote its use.

Related:
India Becomes The Largest Market For Opera Mini In Terms Of User-base; Top Domains, Handsets
Idea Inks Deal With Opera To Offer Opera Mini To Subscribers
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There’s A Business Angle To The Hungama-Opera Speed Dial Deal
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Opera Inks Browser Deal In India With MTS
– Vodafone To Offer Opera Mini 5 For 2G Handsets; Tata Indicom Data