There are two interesting developments taking place on the mobile web browser front. Opera has submitted its Opera Mini browser for the iPhone to Apple for approval. This is an uphill battle since Apple generally rejects all apps that duplicate the functionality of core iPhone software — and the iPhone already has a web browser.
Opera Mini does work differently from Safari for the iPhone. By offloading some of the work of rendering web pages to remote servers, it speeds up the page load time for many web sites.
Basically, when you navigate to a page with a lot of images and other rich media content, rather than relying on your phone’s CPU to process the page, Opera Mini sends a request to Opera’s servers to compress the images and shoot them to your phone. But it’s not at all clear that this is enough to differentiate Opera Mini from Safari. So I’d be rather surprised if Apple actually approves the app.
The other big story du jour is Mozilla’s decision to cease development of Firefox for Windows Mobile. This is due to Microsoft’s decision to insist that all third party Windows Phone 7 Series apps be built using Silverlight and the XNA gaming framework. But Microsoft’s native apps aren’t built on either platform, and Mozilla says if Microsoft isn’t going to provide tools for developing native applications, then Mozilla isn’t going to bother developing fro the platform.
Mozilla could theoretically continue development of a mobile browser for Windows Mobile 6.5, but since Microsoft is clearly moving in another direction, that means the software could become outdated rather quickly. Instead Mozilla will focus on building Firefox for Android and Maem/MeeGo devices.
Opera Mini, meanwhile, is already available for Android, Windows Mobile, Symbian, BlackBerry, and all Java based phones.
You can check out a demo video of Opera Mini for the iPhone after the break.