Not too long ago, Opera made waves by introducing a fairly revolutionary server-side data compression software called Opera Max that has been nothing short of a godsend for those on limited data plans, in rural areas and in emerging markets where demand for gigabytes to burn is building much too fast for those building up the networks to keep up with it. As a result of this condition, Opera Max has come bundled with and embedded into some handsets, especially in these emerging markets such as India, Bangladesh, Latin America and Africa.
The technology works by, in a nutshell, feeding the data to Opera’s servers before it comes to you, where it is compressed significantly before being passed back to you. Opera claims that this can be done without a drop in quality. Obviously, this won’t work when downloading files like pictures, music and games to keep on-device, but for website viewing, it should be able to shave about 50 percent of your usage off the top, with that figure jumping to 60 percent for streaming content like Netflix and YouTube.
With recent deals struck with Acer, Hisense and TWZ, the total number of OEMs that are willing to ship their products with Opera Max on board has grown to 14 and is supposedly going to continue growing. Big names like Samsung, Xiaomi and Oppo have been on board for a while now, helping to make the service and thus Opera’s brand to become more ubiquitous over time.
Opera’s bold claim is that with this pattern of growth, they are saying that their software is going to have been packed in with 17 million fresh from the factory devices by 2017. With growth in most of the target markets showing no sign of slowing down any time soon, it’s not hard to see something like this happening. Data compression isn’t just a handy cost-saving measure in some areas, it’s actually a necessary tool to keep the demand for data from spilling over the possible supply.
To say that network architecture is in its infancy in some of Android’s bigger emerging markets would be an understatement. Opera, however, has adopted a “bring it on” attitude, stating that they’re even interested in bringing the next billion internet users from landlines and broadband into the mobile space seamlessly using their technology to offset the gap between market growth and network capacity growth.