The iPhone’s effect on the mobile Internet is over-rated, says Opera CEO Jon von Tetzchner. What the whole world needs is a browser that can span from PCs down to the old and simple phones
Using the browser for everything also means users are less stuck on any one platform, he said, so PC browsers will eventually give people a route away from dependence on Windows or any other operating system: “Most people are doing things online, instead of using native apps. If you count Office [or OpenOffice] as one native application, most people use less than five,” he said. Progress made by Linux and Mac OS in desktops and laptops is thanks to this process, he believes.
“That benefit is even bigger on mobile devices,” he said. “Java is a struggle for anyone that’s tried it, and using a browser is easier. In the enterprise, back-end software is on big computers, and the interface is more often web based.”
Emerging markets, and older phones
Away from the Apple hype, he thinks Opera’s model will be the best one for “the real world” and in particular emerging markets. “It’s an important job is to get everyone on line,” he said. “Five billion haven’t got access to the web, and only 1.6 billion do.
A lot of the unconnected billions have mobile phones, and Opera can get these online, even if they are quite old and simple phones, “and we provide it for free. We are contributing to a better world.”
The message about browsing on older phones might have resonance in the developed world, as older phones will persist here: “We’ve been waiting since 2000 for an explosion in smartphones. They are still around 13 percent of the total market, and all the analysts expect that to reach only 20 to 25 percent in the next five years.”