Opera Mini

Browser maker Opera Software has partnered with seven Indian handset manufacturers to preload the Opera Mini mobile browser on their upcoming Android based handsets. Its partners include Micromax, Videocon, Spice, MoMagic Technologies, Wynncom, Lemon Mobiles and iBall.

Opera noted that Opera Mini will be the exclusive third party mobile browser preloaded on these phones and as part of the partnership, Micromax has already preloaded Opera Mini to its Android-based Canvas 4, Canvas Doodle 2 and Canvas Fun, while Spice has preloaded the browser to Spice Coolpad. The deal period and the terms of the partnership were not disclosed.

Tie-ups in Bangladesh & Nepal: Outside India, Opera has inked two new OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturers) partnerships with Symphony Mobile in Bangladesh and Colors Mobile in Nepal. With this, the company claims to have tie-ups with 17 Android handset manufacturers in the region, through which it claims to have preloaded Opera Mini to more than 100 Android devices in India, Bangladesh and Nepal since the beginning of this year.

Of these tie-ups, Micromax is an important partnership for Opera, considering that it has emerged to be one of the most popular handset maker in the country and currently has 23% smartphone market share in India, just behind the market leader Samsung, as indicated by the IDC report.

This was somewhat acknowledged by Opera which claimed that Micromax accounts for 13% of its Indian Opera Mini users on Android and Micromax Canvas 2 was the most used Android handset among Indian Opera Mini users. While Opera hasn’t disclosed any India-specific numbers on its Opera Mini for Android or Opera Mini users, the company had recently claimed that India is still the largest market for Opera Mini which had 239 million as of July 2013. Opera also added that Opera Mini for Android accounts for 21% of the total Opera Mini users, which translates to around 50.2 million Opera Mini for Android users.

Until recently, Opera Mini was the dominant mobile browser in India, which was partly driven by various preloading and telco deals inked by the company over the years and partly driven by the browser’s capabilities to compress webpages significantly to users who were able to get a pretty decent browser experience at low data costs. However, with users moving to smartphones and the declining data costs in the country, Opera has been facing significant pressure from other players like UC Web’s UC Browser which provides more advanced features to users.

Last month, UC Browser had claimed to have overtook Opera Mini as India’s top mobile browser and as of August 2013, UC Browser had a market share of 30.88% in India as compared to Opera Mini’s 27.85%, according to the web analytics firm StatCounter. It will be interesting to see if Opera is able to get back its leadership position with these tie-ups.