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Opera Mini BREWs up

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Opera Mini, the proxy-served edition of the third browser, is now available on BREW MP, the OS that used to be a platform, and still claims to be relevant.

BREW MP is an embedded OS, but one that supports an app store and developer community. Support for Opera Mini should help attract those manufacturers able to see beyond the allure of Android's price tag, though Qualcomm argues its diminutive OS is cheaper in that it requires less processing power and memory, and with Opera Mini it should be able to offer a decent browsing experience too.

Not that BREW MP is making any claim to being a smart phone OS – even Qualcomm isn't that arrogant – but while other operating systems might be confident they can squeeze themselves into the feature phone space, BREW MP is already there, and Qualcomm is talking about about $50 handsets linked to operator, or Qualcomm-hosted application stores.

BREW has quite a pedigree – half a decade before the iPhone was launched operators were unreasonably rejecting applications from their BREW application stores, often without explanation or recompense. Owners of BREW handsets couldn‘t install so much as a ringtone without operator approval – just like their iPhone-owning descendants so many years later.

Since then BREW has lost its server-side component (and added MP, Mobile Platform, to its name), though it still offers in-application billing with some operators and a decent C development environment for those who don‘t want to target the latest smartphones.

Qualcomm reckons operators love BREW MP 'cos Qualcomm has no aspirations of customer ownership, while manufacturers should love it because of its minimal hardware requirements, and everyone should love the ability to run Opera Mini. But those advantages also apply to Symbian, which is as free as Android too, but Symbian hasn't got Qualcomm, or anyone else, standing behind it – which could prove critical. ®

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