Opera and Grameenphone in Bangladesh
At Opera we believe passionately that everyone has a right to the Web. I'm personally really pleased that we've announced a partnership with Grameenphone in Bangladesh to release a co-branded version of Opera Mini, because I visited to Bangladesh 17 years ago and really enjoyed myself.
And we're partnering with the good guys too: 34% of Grameenphone is owned by a non-profit sister concern of Grameen Bank, a Nobel Prize-winning Bangladeshi institution that gives microloans to the rural poor (mostly women) to help them out of poverty. 95% of the bank is owned by its borrowers, of whom 97% are women.
Some browsers work great on high-end, expensive hardware that costs thousands of dollars, which is out of the question for many people in emerging economies. Other browsers require hardware acceleration and don't work on the Windows XP operating system that is still the most popular in the world.
At Opera, we spend huge amounts of time and effort ensuring that Opera Desktop works on Windows 2000 and XP so users of older computers (who maybe don't have the resources to purchase the hardware required to run the latest commercial Operating Systems) nevertheless have access to a modern browser. We make sure that Opera Mini works in as many handsets as possible.
As I wrote a long comment on someone's blog post Why Nobody Uses Opera:
There are millions of people who surf the Web exclusively by mobile phone. In late 2009, I was speaking at universities in Indonesia. In one uni, the whole computer science faculty shared a broadband line smaller than I have in my house in the UK, but all the students had great 3G phones. That's why for years, Opera has pioneered small but powerful mobile browsers. (We've also reduced the size of our desktop installer, too, in Opera 11. Lots of features isn't an excuse for bloat.)
Not everyone can afford Smartphones. That's why we also have Opera Mini, which is a proxy-based browser that runs on featurephones too under-powered to run a full OS and browser. The pages are rendered, using exactly the same rendering engine as in our other products, and then compressed by up to 90% and sent to the user's phone. The heavy lifting is already done, so the phone can display the web pages - and for those paying by the megabyte there's a massive cost saving.
Mini runs on over 1000 different phones, many of which can run no other browser, and is free to consumers. We bring the Web to those who would otherwise have no access.
In short: we believe that everyone has a right to use the Web: "WWW" stands for "World Wide Web", not "Wealthy Western Web". And that's why we have great market share in countries where commentators and big development companies don't live.
The Opera Developer Relations Team have been to speak in India, Indonesia, Nigeria, China and other emerging economies where the Web acts as a force for economic self-empowerment for individuals as well as companies and governments.
You can see from our monthly State of the Mobile Web reports that we're passionately interested in the whole world, not just the wealthy areas.