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Apple won't let Opera release its Mini browser for the iPhone, says the Opera boss. Jon von Tetzchner made the comments to the New York Times last week.

It isn't a great surprise. Apple holds a monopoly on the distribution of iPhone applications, and can do what it likes in its self-appointed gatekeeper role. Apple has already used the terms and conditions to ban a tethering modem application Netshare, and a podcasting application Podcaster - the latter because it was "too similar" to Apple's own built-in media player, iTunes. Podcaster has subsequently gone down the "jailbroken" route - the unofficial channel for application distribution - but this misses out on Apple's promotion, and may void the device warranty.

So what are iPhone users losing out on?

Undoubtedly, Apple's own Safari browser is one of the wonders of the iPhone, if not its most attractive feature. Yet Opera's Mini offers a quite different experience - with speed the top priority.

Although Mini is limited to one page at a time, it's able to offer a much faster browsing experience than Apple's Safari, since the pages are compressed and reformatted by a proxy server. And that's before you've turned the pictures off - something else you can't do with Safari. Oh - and it doesn't crash every ten minutes.

While Opera Mini remains off-limits to iPhone, iPhone and Touch users might consider using a similar proxy such as Skweezer - which will speed things up no end. ®

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