John Strand, CEO of Strand Consult, explains why the launch of Opera Turbo, and the rapid growth in the mobile broadband market, will create a paradigm shift on the desktop web browser market
The desktop browser market is characterised by developing towards browsers that have an increasing level of functionality and that are becoming larger and more bulky. Likewise, many websites that visitors access using their browsers are also becoming increasingly bulky. The increased complexity and bulkiness of browsers and websites has been compensated, however, by faster PCs and the transition from dial-up Internet connections to DSL broadband.
In Strand Consults report Successful Strategies for the Mobile Broadband Market, we have examined this market development. The fact that mobile broadband is being sold as a flat-rate product - but with a maximum download limit - has resulted in completely new needs emerging from both operators and customers.
From the operators point of view, the success of mobile broadband has resulted in operators facing large investments in network capacity and in their backhaul (backbone) - the network that delivers broadband and capacity to the base stations. The colossal explosion in mobile broadband traffic has resulted in the whole mobile industry facing multi-billion infrastructure investments - investments that are growing daily as mobile traffic increases, and an ever-increasing number of customers use a mobile broadband network to connect to the Internet.
During the many workshops we have held for operators around the world, we have experienced many operators asking for solutions that can limit or compress their flat-rate data traffic. We have taken a closer look at this problem in the analysis here.
In practice, there is no doubt that if you sell flat-rate connections, it is important to examine any way that you can either limit the amount of data traffic, or alternatively, create new sources of revenue.From a customer's point of view, it is important to optimise the available bandwidth when using mobile broadband and to get as much value for money as possible out of the data traffic included in the mobile broadband package. Basically, customers want to surf quickly and inexpensively - and it needs to work.
But the development we have been experiencing on the desktop browser market has not taken into account the development of the mobile broadband market, and the browser industry has not taken into account the needs of millions of mobile broadband customers in the short, medium and long-term. Strand Consult has had a great deal of focus on this issue, both in our workshops and in our dialogue with companies like Opera in Norway. This has been one of the main areas that we believe both operators and browser developers like Opera should be very focused on.
Last week at MWC, Opera announced Opera Turbo, a desktop browser that combines the widely-known Opera Mini compression technology with a desktop browser. This allows users to surf the Internet faster, while using less bandwidth, compared to a traditional desktop browser. At Strand Consult, we believe that the traditional desktop browser industry is facing a paradigm shift and that the browser manufacturers will need to address the millions of new mobile broadband customers that are choosing to purchase a new mobile broadband connection each month. Quite simply, both end-users and mobile operators will demand products with the functionality that Opera is launching with Opera Turbo.
The good news for the browser industry is that the experience from Opera Mini and from the many operator workshops that Strand Consult has held around the world shows that mobile operators have the ability and willingness to pay market players like Opera to allow their customers access to browser technology like Opera Mini and Opera Turbo. At the end of the day, operators need to limit their CAPEX, while increasing end user experience when customers use mobile broadband connections to surf the Internet.
In our mobile broadband report, we analyse the challenges operators are facing, and explain why an application like Opera Turbo will help create a paradigm shift for the traditional desktop browser industry. With the launch of Opera Turbo, the mobile industry will most probably experience a paradigm shift larger than we have seen with Apple and the iPhone. One thing is certain - there is a great probability that there will be many more people using browsers like Opera Turbo to surf the Internet, than people using the iPhone.