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Opera Mini For The Mobile Set

Browsing the Web on an average mobile device can be a slow and frustrating process. It's a process that the newly introduced Opera Mini 3.0 browser wants to make a whole lot better.

Opera Mini 3.0 is a free download that, according to Opera, is not tied to any single service and can be used on a wide array of mobile devices. Nor does it lock a new user into Opera Mini, which means that users can still choose which mobile browser they wish to use.

The new Mini browser includes a number of improvements over its predecessors, including an integrated RSS feed reader, faster downloads and photo-sharing features.

With this release Opera is also making it easier for users to actually download and install the Mini.

"With earlier versions, finding the link to download Opera Mini was not obvious and the process to then download and install involved a number of steps," Opera spokeswoman Michelle Valdivia Lien told internetnews.com.

Lien said users can go to the Mini browser site from WAP or Web and receive the browser directly on their phones by text message.

Opera Mini was originally launched in January. To date, Opera claims that some 8 million unique users have installed it and connected to their servers at least once. Lien said that over the last 10 months more than 2 billion pages have been rendered for Opera Mini users.

One of the issues that mobile Web browsers have traditionally had to deal with relates to limited bandwidth. Opera Mini 3.0 helps there, too, by speeding up transfers with a proxy server at Opera.

"The servers compress data up to 80 percent," Lien explained. "It makes a largely substantial difference, ultimately enabling the handling on simple mobile phones, that otherwise couldn't, and reducing costs for users with limited data plans."

Opera's proxy servers also integrate small-screen rendering technology that reformats Web pages for small-screen scrolling.

Though Opera is not charging end users directly for the Mini, there is a revenue model.

According to Lien, Opera will monetize the Mini via integrated search and branded customized browsers that may be developed for telecom operators.