Opera's WebKit move gives it shot at iOS market
But don't expect big things, says analyst
But Opera's CTO maintained that that was just one factor of several that led the company to decide to abandon decades of work.
"It was one of the things we considered," said Hakon Wium Lie in a Wednesday interview. However, he declined to comment on when, or even if, the move to WebKit would lead to an Opera browser that would meet with Apple's approval.
"I'm not going to comment on future products," said Lie, echoing language that Apple executives themselves use when asked about unannounced plans. "And I can't comment on [release] dates because I don't have dates."
Apple maintains a tight hold on iOS by restricting what can, and cannot, be installed on an iPhone or iPad from the App Store. Its rules, for instance, bar third-party browsers that do not rely on Apple's version of WebKit, which powers iOS's default Safari browser.
Al Hilwa, an analyst with IDC, said much the same as Lie when asked whether the App Store/iOS factor was a primary reason for Opera's surprising decision.
"This may be one factor," Hilwa acknowledged. "[But] the bigger factors are, one, that hurried developers are increasingly coding to WebKit browsers at the exclusion of others, and two, it is more cost-effective for Opera to absorb all the open-source work in WebKit and Chromium, instead of having to re-invent the wheel every day."
And Chrome is already in the iOS App Store, having debuted there last June.
Even after a change to the WebKit-based Chromium and Google's V8, Opera would have to do the same to win Apple's approval. And once in the App Store, Opera -- like Chrome -- will have its work cut out for it.
"As most new smartphones have strong built-in browsers, this may be a long-term challenge for Opera," said Hilwa when asked whether the shift to WebKit would give Opera a better chance of competing with much larger rivals like Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer and Safari. "However, Opera plays in a variety of other areas that device platforms do not really play at, such as embedded devices."
Chrome has had little success on iOS. January data from Web metrics firm Net Applications, which tracks mobile browser usage, does not even list Chrome 23, the current version for iOS. Meanwhile, Net Application said Safari accounted for 61% of all mobile browser usage.
Opera will demonstrate a WebKit-based Android browser at the Mobile World Congress, which opens on Feb. 25 in Barcelona. "We're all hands on Android right now," Lie said.
Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at @gkeizer, on Google+ or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed . His email address is email@example.com.
- Workarounds to purge search bar from Firefox's new tab page are available
- Mozilla ships Firefox 31, adds search to new tab page
- Microsoft's IE steps back from the brink of irrelevance
- Firefox falters, falls to record low in overall browser share
- Firefox risks user backlash by adding search box to new tab page
- Google unseats Microsoft as the U.S. browser powerhouse
- Safari, Chrome push to mask URLs
- Chrome on Windows champs at the 64-bit
- Google pulls trigger, cripples some Chrome add-ons
- Microsoft shoots to shorten Internet Explorer's long tail
Read more about Mobile Apps in Computerworld's Mobile Apps Topic Center.
- Social Media Education: The New Edge for Success Failure to train for social media will cost your business money. A recent report showed how digitally prepared companies can unlock up to...
- Social Media in Technology: A Unified Strategy for Success Find out how social media is sparking a new era of customer and industry-understanding in technology enterprises and how industry leaders are overcoming...
- How Network Connections Drive Web Application Performance Users around the globe, on all sorts of devices, expect Web applications to function as seamlessly as desktop applications. This paper discusses the...
- Mission Critical: Managing Mobile Applications & Content Smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices have become embedded in enterprise processes, thanks to the consumerization of IT and a new generation of...
- Keep Servers Up and Running and Attackers in the Dark An SSL/TLS handshake requires at least 10 times more processing power on a server than on the client. SSL renegotiation attacks can readily...
- On Demand: Mastering the Art of Mobile Content Management Mobile device usage in the enterprise has skyrocketed, and it continues to escalate. IT must answer to users who demand access to their... All Internet White Papers | Webcasts
Our new bimonthly Internet of Things newsletter helps you keep pace with the rapidly evolving technologies, trends and developments related to the IoT. Subscribe now and stay up to date!