Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Vodafone to Offer Opera Browser on Low-Cost Mobile Phones

In an effort to bring low-cost, mobile data service to more people, Vodafone announced plans to a offer a customized version of the Opera Mini browser running on low-cost handsets over 2G networks. Specifically, Vodafone and Opera Software have developed an enhanced version of the Opera Mini 5 for lower- to mid-tier handsets.

Since the Opera Mini 5 browser can compress data by up to 90 percent, it requires less processing power on the handset and uses less network capacity, resulting in a richer internet experience in more challenging conditions. The on-screen experience will feature step-by-step, simple instructions in local languages, with a strong emphasis on the use of intuitive icons to help those with lower levels of literacy.

The Opera Mini 5 browser has been embedded in a range of 20 devices as well as being downloadable to over 250 GPRS supported handsets in Vodafone's customer base.

Vodafone said it will offer highly affordable data tariffs to match this announcement.

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. The initiative is initially being rolled out in India, South Africa, Turkey, Tanzania and Egypt with other markets expected to follow.

"With this product, we can transform even basic handsets into very capable internet browsing devices, enabling millions of people to enjoy the social and economic aspects of the internet that many already take for granted," said Jonathan Bill, Vodafone Internet Services Head of Emerging Markets.

In February, Vodafone launched the world's cheapest voice and text handset: the Vodafone 150, which retails at under US$15. The handset, along with the $20 Vodafone 250 handset, will be available in the first instance in India, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Turkey, Mozambique, Qatar, South Africa and Tanzania.

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