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Summary:

Talk about missed opportunities: after a lot of expectation, the Opera web browser for the Nintendo DS is finally out in the US, and the initial response isn’t so great. Top gamer blog Destructoid gave it a pan, irked by its consistent difficulty of use (”Pure […]

Talk about missed opportunities: after a lot of expectation, the Opera web browser for the Nintendo DS is finally out in the US, and the initial response isn’t so great. Top gamer blog Destructoid gave it a pan, irked by its consistent difficulty of use (”Pure frustration ensued and I nearly threw the DS out the window”), while Joystiq’s take is decidedly middling (”the U.S. browser is just as crippled as the [EU and Japanese version and]… doesn’t offer anything revolutionary.”)

This reception definitely crimps my initial reaction: when it was announced last year, I thought the DS could end up becoming the world’s dominant PDA without even trying.

Think of it: there’s close to 50 million of them out there already, and it’s forecast to be in an astounding 9 of 10 Japanese households in a few years. Jessica Alba is a fan, for God’s sake. With the DS’s stylus interface, an intuitive, full-featured Opera would become standard to an already huge install base, and since it’s so much cheaper than most PDAs, appeal to many who wouldn’t otherwise consider getting a DS. But all that’s to one side now. Unless Nintendo can come out with a greatly improved version, I wouldn’t bet on that. I’ll give it a hands-on shot, but I suspect my DS will gather dust until there’s a sequel to Dual Strike.

  1. Yeah, well, that’s what Nintendo gets for not knowing how to create its own browser, therefore depending on closed source Opera.

    But if Nintendo was more intelligent (e.g., if they understood the power of community and open source), they would have gotten behind the open source WebKit like Sony has for S60, like Apple has for Safari 3 (on Windows, Mac, iPhone), like Adobe has for Apollo.

    Now that Webkit has more momentum behind it, Opera will probably start a gradual decline (the mobile companies can license S60 from Nokia for example).

    Anyone notice that Steve Jobs at his WWDC keynote when discussing Safari 3 didn’t even compare to or list Opera? He only compared to Internet Explorer and Firefox!

    Looks like the fat lady is singing the blues at the Opera.

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  2. Apologies, correction to my previous posted comment, this paragraph should read as (not Sony but Nokia):

    But if Nintendo was more intelligent (e.g., if they understood the power of community and open source), they would have gotten behind the open source WebKit like Nokia has for S60, like Apple has for Safari 3 (on Windows, Mac, iPhone), like Adobe has for Apollo.

    I realized that I accidentally typed Sony instead of Nokia because in the back of my mind while writing that comment, I was thinking about how Sony missed the boat with digital music players (e.g., ceding defeat to iPod and not able to rule the world with a digital Walkman) because culturally Sony doesn’t really understand software all that well and Japanese culture also doesn’t promote individualism as much as America does (e.g., Steve Jobs is an artist but hats off to him for being anal about his designs and he would never survive in a committee atmosphere). I have to think that Nintendo is probably culturally very similar to Sony and thus it not to be expected to innovate software wise (re: web user agents).

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  3. danny beckner Saturday, June 16, 2007

    i am reading your comments right now on my wii and the opera browser is good on wii but not on ds

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  4. Eddie@: You’ve got the situation mixed up here. It’s not the software that’s limiting the hardware in this case. Nintendo went to Opera because it HAD experience in the mobile browser buisness. A lot of the problems come from the lack of memory for caching. They couldn’t do much except adding a memory expansion cartridge for the GBA slot. If they wanted a faster browser, they should’ve put more memory on the DS from the get-go.

    More and more companies are starting to realize web browsing on smaller devices is the next big thing, and having their own browser keeps money within the company.

    On Jobs’s keynote: Of course not. Who are the top two contenders? IE and Firefox. Even if you look at the test numbers Apple put up (which aren’t completely accurate) Opera ranks fairly closely with Safari.

    Opera’s not down just yet.

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  5. I was super excited when the DS browser came out in Europe and Japan but after seeing some not-so-great reviews I was pretty down on it. And after all of that I still want to buy it. I know it is slow and annoying but all I want to do is be able to browse my RSS feeds on Google Reader and check my email without having to get out my laptop, It is either the DS browser for $30 or a Nokia N800 for $330.

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  6. Yeah I agree with this article. I have not seen speeds this slow since 56k dial-up. I messed around with it for 20 minutes, then banged my head against the wall. But it should be no surprise beings the brits and japanese were crying over this for quite some time. In my opinion, a browser should have been included in the DS firmware for free.

    However, Nintendo was not thinking ahead and their firmware will never be updated anyways…. Ever…
    Well, there is always the DS “ultra light” to look forward to (being sarcastic).

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  7. Yes, opera browsers don’t sign. Period. Just look at their market share numbers.

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  8. Browse the internet on any Smartphone (Moto Q or Samsung Blackjack, for example), and realize how slow that is. The connection speed is almost irrelevant as the 200-300 MHz processors struggle to render the page. The DS has a 67 MHz processor. Also, it’s only got 4 megs of RAM, which is probably barely enough room to run the browser, let alone store a web page complete with text, graphics, etc.

    That they can do it at all is a testament to how great the people at Opera are at scaling their browser. I’ve every confidence that it’s great on a 300 MHz Smartphone. The DS is just a bridge too far. It can’t be done.

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  9. It’s probably still faster (and more stable) than that piece of turd Apple call a Windows browser.

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  10. jumbo hot dog Tuesday, June 26, 2007

    Hi! Been using opera browser on several devices (desktop, mobile and wii) for some time. Just happens to be in love with Opera, and hopes they continue to try to put their browser on hardware with limited capacity. If you dont understand the limitations on the hardware, dont bother to think about the software.

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