Feeds

Opera Mobile for Android: it's no Fatfox

Chunky Mozilla browser shamed

Boost IT visibility and business value

Update: Opera now says that the install size of Opera for Android will be about 20MB and that the download size is 6.5MB. This story has been updated accordingly.

Opera Mobile won't show up on Android as fat as Firefox 4.

Late last week, Mozilla released an obese Firefox 4 beta that required about 40MB of storage space – no small thing when you consider that so many Android phones are limited to between 64 and 512MB of app storage.

Mozilla blames at least part of Firefox's fatness on the Android native development kit, which forces the open source outfit to save the browser's rendering files in two places: inside its Android package (APK) file and in a folder on the handset.

But according to Opera Mobile and Mini product manager Phillips Gronvold, Open Mobile for Android will have an install size of 20MB (after a 6.5MB download).

"We have fifteen years of experience putting browsers on small devices," he tells The Reg. As the company announced yesterday at a press event in Oslo, Norway, the browser will arrive in the Android app marketplace place within the month.

The Norwegians already offer an Android incarnation of their low-bandwidth Opera Mini browser, which taps into Opera proxy servers that intercept and compress web pages before sending them down to the handset. But it has yet to offer the more complete Opera Mobile browser on the Google operating system. Opera Mobile is capable of accessing the web through those same proxy servers, but it can also directly access the net, downloading pages in full.

Yes, Mozilla is working to shrink its fat Firefox. Developer Michael Wu is fashioning a dynamic linker that can load the rendering libraries from the APK without copying them to a folder. And according to Mozilla, this will cut the installation size by more than half. But it will increase startup time, and however small it gets, we still question Mozilla's position on mobiles.

The Firefox alpha for Android was practically unusable. Even if you can spare the space for the beta, its performance is still shockingly poor. The browser will never be available on the iPhone. And it has landed on only one other mobile platform: Nokia Maemo.

As difficult a time as Mozilla faces on the desktop with Google now playing the browser game, it's facing a far greater battle on mobiles. There was good reason to adopt Firefox on the desktop in the mid oughts. But the modern mobile browser market has panned out quite differently.

Mozilla's position is in stark contrast to the mobileness of Opera, which already has a strong foothold on handsets thanks in large part to the low-bandwidth Opera Mini, a browser that's right at home on good old fashioned feature phones.

On Thursday, in Oslo, the company laid claim to 71 million active Opera Mini users, and Gronvold tells us that this only includes those who've used the browser at least once in the past thirty days. Opera Mini is even available on the iPhone. Thanks to those proxy servers, it doesn't interpret code on the Jobsian holy handheld.

Since the Apple app police approved Opera Mini for the Jesus Phone in April, Jobs has "clarified" developer rules for the device, and among other things, the new laws say that: "Apps that browse the web must use the iOS WebKit framework and WebKit Javascript." Gronvold acknowledges the new phrase worries Opera a bit. But he contends that in a sense, Opera Mini isn't browsing the web. It's merely receiving compressed pages from a proxy server.

But even if the ever capricious Apple police bring the hammer on Mini, Opera is better placed on mobiles than a certain other browser maker. ®

Boost IT visibility and business value

More from The Register

next story
The Return of BSOD: Does ANYONE trust Microsoft patches?
Sysadmins, you're either fighting fires or seen as incompetents now
Munich considers dumping Linux for ... GULP ... Windows!
Give a penguinista a hug, the Outlook's not good for open source's poster child
Intel's Raspberry Pi rival Galileo can now run Windows
Behold the Internet of Things. Wintel Things
Linux Foundation says many Linux admins and engineers are certifiable
Floats exam program to help IT employers lock up talent
Microsoft cries UNINSTALL in the wake of Blue Screens of Death™
Cache crash causes contained choloric calamity
Eat up Martha! Microsoft slings handwriting recog into OneNote on Android
Freehand input on non-Windows kit for the first time
Linux kernel devs made to finger their dongles before contributing code
Two-factor auth enabled for Kernel.org repositories
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 10 endpoint backup mistakes
Avoid the ten endpoint backup mistakes to ensure that your critical corporate data is protected and end user productivity is improved.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Rethinking backup and recovery in the modern data center
Combining intelligence, operational analytics, and automation to enable efficient, data-driven IT organizations using the HP ABR approach.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.