Opera Gets One-Touch Button In China
By Carlo Longino, Wed Mar 03 22:45:00 GMT 2004

DoCoMo's inclusion of a button with one-touch access to i-mode on its handsets started a phenomenon that set the stage for some pretty serious stand-offs between carriers and device makers. Now Opera's getting in on the act.

ZTE and Lucent have released a couple of rebranded Kyocera handsets in China that feature a dedicated "O" button that brings up the Opera browser. It's the first time we've heard of anybody other than a vendor or carrier having such a button, and it's a big win for Opera, not just from a branding standpoint, but also as an entry into the lucrative Chinese market.

Opera's key selling point is that it can render standard HTML in addition to WAP, and these two models are designed as Internet-centric devices. That will likely be a point of differentiation for carriers supporting the handsets, and perhaps signalling a shift from carriers competing on price to competing on features.

It remains to be seen, though, how carriers will take to having yet another brand so prominently displayed on handsets. It's been a point of contention in Europe, where carriers wanted branded softkey access to their portals and services, while device manufacturers wanted a button to send users to portals with their brand.