Since we released the mobile web browser Opera Mini in 2006, Opera Software has focused on bringing the internet to as many people in the world as possible, regardless of their device preference or location.
Our mission has been to make great web browsers that run on practically any device in the market, while developing affordable solutions that help people to access the web by fully utilizing the potential of their internet connection.
In August 2013, Opera became a founding partner of Internet.org, an organization where we, together with other partners, focus on how to accelerate the growth of the internet, bringing the web to the next billion people.
In keeping with Internet.org’s objectives, Opera Software continues to provide solutions for consumers and operators to reduce the barriers hindering web growth. These challenges are sometimes cost based, but they also involve growing pains in the infrastructure that has expanded rapidly in developing markets.
That is why Opera Software is continuing our mission to:
- Reduce data costs and increase network performance.
- Simplify the way people get access to the web.
- Educate people about what’s great about the web.
In this report, we examine the data to see what we have achieved since launching Opera Mini, eight years of bringing the web to users in an accessible, affordable way.
Where will the growth come from?
For ten years, developing countries have experienced a tremendous growth in internet users, most of whom have never used a PC to access the internet, instead channeling all their internet usage via mobile phones.
A couple of years ago, the number of mobile internet users in developing countries surpassed the developed world, and, while the number of internet users in the developed world is stagnating, the number of users in the developing world continues to grow rapidly.
Reduce data costs and increase network performance
Since the launch of the Opera Mini web browser in 2006, its built-in compression technology has saved consumers and operators around the world a staggering amount of data traffic. All in all, Opera Mini data centers have saved more than 350 petabytes of data (data that otherwise would be sent to the users’ mobile phones), enabling access to more web content, for less money spent on data traffic.
In many developing countries, the cost of mobile data is considerable and serves as a major barrier to consumer adoption of the internet. The creation of this “digital divide”, the gap between internet use in the developed world and usage in under-developed economies, can be significantly reduced through Opera’s compression technologies. While data fees in many developing countries can be considered fairly low on a global basis, when considered in light of the average earning power of a consumer in those markets, existing mobile data fees are quite high.
To demonstrate the impact of pricing on the creation of the global digital divide, the chart in the graphic (right) shows the percentage of per capita GDP necessary to purchase 1 MB of data in the United States, the United Kingdom and an average of the U.N.’s largest under-developed economies. As shown on the chart, consumers in development markets must spend 12 times the percentage of their per capita GDP as U.K. or U.S. consumers. However, with Opera Mini, those same consumers can gain the benefits of our compression technology to reduce their relative cost by 75%, where a MB of mobile data is now only 3 times the relative cost of a consumer in the developed world.
How slow are the networks?
One area where Opera Mini excels is in slow network conditions. By utilizing the compression technology included in all Opera Mini browsers, users can get away with downloading as little as a tenth of the original amount of webpage data, saving time and money in the process.
Cost savings per browser session
Opera Mini can dramatically reduce the need for data traffic. The built-in, always-on compression removes up to 90% of data, cutting costs for consumers who pay on a per-megabyte basis, as is often the case with base plans in developing countries.
Looking at the Southeast Asia region, the need for efficient solutions is evident. In some countries, more than 90% of users are on pre-paid plans. These plans often require either a per-megabyte payment to use the internet connection offered by the operator, or they require users to purchase preset packages for data connections.
Simplify the way people get access to the web
In developed countries, large data plans with room for lots of data traffic are widespread, and many users don’t think much of watching a video online or continuously checking in on their social networks. For the next billion internet users waiting to take their first steps online, the reality is somewhat different.
There is a large difference in how mobile internet users in various countries choose to pay for their data plans. A trend we observe is that users in more developed countries have a tendency to prefer post-paid plans, while users in less developed countries go for pre-paid plans.
Post-paid plans with all-you-can-eat data traffic plans are easy to understand, as are pre-paid plans with a certain amount of minutes or SMS included. The more abstract notion in pre-paid plans around data use has proved harder to understand for users, which is one reason why Opera Software introduced Opera Web Pass in 2013 to improve consumer understanding of data traffic usage.
Opera Web Pass makes selecting and paying for a dataplan a very easy, visual process. Plans can be measured in time, can include selected content or can even be sponsored for free access.
With partners such as Telkomsel in Indonesia, web passes have been sold and used to enable even more internet users to take advantage of the capabilities in their phones and mobile networks – capabilities that might have been unused if the onboarding process to the web was too expensive or complex.
Educate people about what’s great about the web
We believe that the society of the web has a social responsibility to help educate newcomers about all the good things the web offers. At Opera Software, we feel that it is our duty to help educate these new users, giving them a solid foundation from which to discover the web.
As an example: new users going online with the Opera Mini browser have instant access to select content from the first time they use Opera Mini, through the Smart Page feature, which shows top local content from the user’s area and lets them log on to social networks, right from the first screen they see upon launching the browser.
Collaboration with key web players including Wikipedia gives instant results for all parties. Wikipedia is the fourth most popular website globally on the Opera Mini platform and is prominently featured as one of the default Speed Dial shortcuts for most Opera Mini versions and markets. By including such popular content, Opera Software brings the best of the web to its users.