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Opera in top secret iPhone talks?

We did not approach Apple...'at that time'

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OpenMobileSummit Opera boss Jon von Tetzchner says that one day Apple's iPhone will run third-party browsers. But he won't be drawn on whether the company is poised to offer a Jobsian version of Opera itself.

Von Tetzchner and company have already admitted to building an Opera incarnation for Steve Jobs's mobile status symbol in the the Opera test lab, but after this story was mangled by the New York Times this fall, Von Tetzchner made it clear that the company had not submitted the browser to the iPhone App Store.

Apple's SDK, you see, isn't exactly browser-friendly. And companies like Opera would rather not face questions about an App Store rejection.

"You can read the SDK in multiple ways, but you can read it in a way that prevents a full browser from being available in the App Store," Tetzchner told The Reg this morning in between sessions at the OpenMobileSummit in downtown San Francisco. "It's a question of being able to run applications. Is it an application platform or not? If you define a browser as an application platform, it's not allowed."

When we asked if Opera actually approached Apple about this ambiguity, he said - after a very pregnant pause - "We did not make contact [with Apple] at that time."

Yes, "at that time." But he would not say whether Opera has subsequently approached Apple or whether an Opera for the iPhone is imminent. "When browsers come onto the platform from third parties, and I'm sure they will, I hope Apple is open to them," he said.

Asked if Opera and other browser makers must simply sit around waiting for Apple to make up its mind, von Tetzchner was quick to say "No. No. No. I'm sure someone will provide a browser [for the iPhone] - and I mean a real browser. Whether that will be us or someone else, that remains to be seen."

Chrome Frame = Netscape train wreck

Like Firefox and Microsoft, von Tetzchner isn't sold on the Google plug-in that turns Internet Explorer into Google Chrome. He compared the move to Netscape's ill-fated efforts to put IE and Gecko rendering engines into the same browser.

"Let's leave it to Microsoft to do their browser, Google do theirs, Mozilla do theirs, and so on. Whenever you try to do multiple browsers in one - remember Netscape? - it messes things up badly," he said.

"That didn't make things easy for [Netscape]...You end up with a mess."

In September, Google released a plug-in that equips Internet Explorer with the rendering and JavaScript engines at the heart of its very own Chrome browser. Dubbed Google Chrome Frame, the plug-in boosts JavaScript speeds while introducing Microsoft's second-rate browser to HTML5, a still-evolving update to the web's hypertext markup language.

Mozilla argued that Chrome Frame will not only sidestep Internet Explorer's built-in security tools, but also confuse the hell out of people. "The user’s understanding of the web’s security model and the behaviour of their browser is seriously hindered by delegating the choice of software to the developers of individual sites they visit," said Mozilla vice president of engineering Mike Shaver.

"It is a problem that we have seen repeatedly with other stack-plugins like Flash, Silverlight, and Java, and not one that I think we need to see replayed again under the banner of HTML5."

Microsoft's argument was similar. Except it didn't make much sense. ®

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