Opera Downloads Show People Want The Web On Phones
By Mike Masnick, Mon Sep 20 23:00:00 GMT 2004

Getting access to the Web on mobile phones may not be easy, but that isn't stopping people from trying. That, alone, should tell operators what people want.

Last month 3 UK's COO made the news by telling the world that anyone who wanted to access the Internet on mobile phones must be "nuts." It was obviously something of an excuse for the walled gardens 3 wants to keep up to protect its business model. He backed that statement up by saying, "that's not what our customers tell us they want." This quickly brings to mind the most famous lesson from Clayton Christensen's Innovator's Dilemma: if you only listen to your current customers, you'll miss what's coming next.

Perhaps 3 should be looking a little further as well. Today, Opera Software announced that 1 million copies of its Opera Mobile browser software have been downloaded, making it "far and away" the most popular 3rd party downloaded app for Symbian-based mobile phones. Of course, Opera charges people for the browser, and its unclear from the press release how many of these downloads really turned into purchases. Also, some may argue that 1 million really isn't that big a number.

However, that doesn't really matter. The important point is that the 1 million number doesn't include any pre-installed copies -- which the company admits already number in the "many millions." In other words, whether or not they eventually paid for it, 1 million users have made a proactive effort to get full Internet access on their mobile phones. On top of this, consider just how difficult it still is (unfortunately) to download and install applications on mobile phones. Many users still find it to be quite a pain and almost not worth the hassle. Still, 1 million users thought it was worth the effort to at least try out a better Web surfing experience. While the subscribers 3 claims its talked to may not want to see the Web on their mobile phones, it certainly looks like plenty of others have no problem leaping over more than a few hurdles to try to do exactly that.