SAN FRANCISCO (07/05/2000) - Browser groupies and serious Webheads have sung the praises of Opera for two years -- provided they've had a PC or Unix machine on which to run the small, speedy browser. Mac users can soon judge for themselves, with not one but two ways to put the browser to good use.
Opera Software AS (http://www.opera.com) plans to release its first Mac browser this year, probably by the time you read this. The Norwegian company has also inked deals to make Opera the default browser on handheld devices under development by Psion and Ericsson.
Opera seems like a natural fit for handhelds. At a time when the size of a browser such as Microsoft Corp.'s Internet Explorer averages 5MB, Opera takes up only 2MB of a machine's hard drive. Besides its trim size, Opera boasts the most rigorous Web-standard compliance among browsers. It also offers full support for Wireless Markup Language, the markup component of Wireless Application Protocol (WAP). WAP is a set of technical specifications aimed at letting handheld users tap into a broad, universal set of services. Opera recognizes and complies with the standard, so users can do things like easily access WAP-enabled wireless networks.
Opera's support for these standards should come in handy with the Ericsson and Psion devices. Because those handhelds will include Opera -- and because it supports a protocol that many wireless networks use -- the slim browser is poised to become a key player in the growing market for mobile-computing software.
Opera CEO Jon von Tetzchner says the company is concentrating not on dominating a specific market, but rather on making a good browser. "Our focus is always the browser," he says. "And our goal is to make surfing the Web on any device more efficient, more fun, and more productive."