November 25, 2009 / 6:57 AM / 9 years ago

Mobile Web surge continues in October: Opera

HELSINKI (Reuters) - Global mobile data traffic continued to surge in October, growing at the fastest pace in seven months, Internet browser company Opera Software said on Wednesday.

Data traffic through Opera’s mobile browser — which packages up to 90 percent of the data to save network bandwidth — rose 16 percent in October from September, the company said.

Tech-savvy consumers have used cellphones to access Internet on the go for long, but the mobile Internet market has really boomed since 2007 introduction of Apple’s iPhone.

“When things really started to get off was when Steve Jobs stood up and said: Now you can get Internet in your pocket,” said Opera’s chief financial officer, Erik Harrell.

“The iPhone has opened the eyes of operators for revenue potential of Web browsers and I think Google has done the same.”

Wireless operators are eager to increase revenue from Internet browsing and the social networking boom as revenue from traditional voice calls is declining, but they are facing increasingly congested networks.

This is helping browsers like Opera, which use proxy servers to package data and send only a small amount through wireless networks.

“There is a rapidly growing trend on the market toward proxy-based browsers,” Randy Cavaiani, vice president for marketing and business development at browser firm Novarra, said in a recent interview.

“If a handset maker is looking to acquire technology, they would look at strength of the server,” he said.

Nokia and other top phone makers have increasingly focused on developing their own browsers, but most players in the industry are certain Blackberry-maker RIM’s August deal to buy browser firm Torch will not be the last one.

“Opera’s future will depend on key technology players assessing their options and deciding on a make or buy strategy.”

Opera has 39.6 million users of its Opera Mini browser who all access the Internet through Opera’s servers — giving the company usage data — and who generated 263 million megabytes of data traffic for operators worldwide last month.

Opera continues to lead the global mobile browsing market, controlling 26.4 percent of the market in November so far, according to Web analytics firm StatCounter. The iPhone browser and Nokia browser follow with 22.1 percent and 19.7 percent of the market.

Opera’s browser is used extensively in emerging countries, with its market share above 50 percent in countries like Russia, Indonesia, India and Ukraine.

Editing by Steve Orlofsky

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