MediaTek and Opera integrate Mini browser on feature phones

Feature phones are becoming increasingly advanced

Opera Software will work with MediaTek, a designer of software and chipsets for low-end phones, on integrating the Norwegian company's Mini browser on feature phones, Opera said on Friday.

The deal with MediaTek will allow mobile phone makers who use MediaTek's chipset to more easily integrate the Opera Mini browser into their phones, according to a spokesman at Opera. That will in turn give more consumers the option of using Mini as their browser, he said.

Opera didn't announce when the first phones resulting from the collaboration will arrive.

The combination of Opera and MediaTek should be a good fit for users in emerging markets, where MediaTek-based phones are popular.

MediaTek's chipsets keep the cost of the phones down. Also, the compression technology used by Mini results in faster page-loading speeds on limited bandwidth connections, as well as lower data costs, according to Opera.

Today, Opera Mini has more than 140 million users, while MediaTek's partners shipped over 500 million units in 2010.

This is the second time in less than a month that MediaTek has added smartphone-like functionality to its platform. In November, the company also started to work with Facebook on adding the social network to phones costing less than US$50 before subsidies.

Besides social networking, music and games are also becoming more important as feature phones become increasingly advanced, Paolo Pescatore, an analyst at CCS Insight, said at the time.

The line between advanced feature phones and low-end smartphones is getting increasingly blurry, as the telecom industry is working to expand the audience for mobile Internet access and related applications.

Emerging markets will account for 60 percent of units sold by 2013, and 70 percent of phones sold in these parts of the world will still be feature phones, according to market research company Informa Telecoms & Media.

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Mikael Ricknäs

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