The second biggest news is arriving today that Opera is buying Opera Mini’s competitor, Skyfire, which just like Opera Mini, it’s compressing the files on the company’s servers, and then sending a file that is 5-10x smaller than it would’ve been if they had visited the website with a regular full browser. These days this is not an issue for most people with smartphones, but in developing markets where people can’t afford expensive data plans, Opera Mini and Skyfire are still used a lot.
Opera thinks that this joint venture is perfect for them, as Skyfire adds strengths in the video compression department, and it’s also very popular in North America:
“Opera and Skyfire are a natural fit,” said Lars Boilesen, CEO, Opera Software. “Both companies have evolved far beyond their browser roots. Skyfire adds capabilities to our portfolio around video, app optimization, smartphones and tablets, and strength in North America. With video expected to consume over two-thirds of global mobile bandwidth by 2015, and as time spent on Android and iOS apps explodes, we are excited to extend Opera’s solutions for operators.”
More than half of the mobile market is still what we call feature phones, and for these phones Opera Mini is almost always the default browser. Even if stock browsers in Android and other platforms will end up eating Opera Mini’s lunch, there are still quite a few years to go until everyone uses smartphones. And even then, their data plans might still not be that affordable, so a lot of people in poor countries might still depend on Opera Mini. The Skyfire functionality should only make it that much better (especially for watching videos).