iPhone Owners Downloading Opera Mini, But Are They Using It?

Opera today shared a preview of its next “State of the Mobile Web” report, which focuses on Opera Mini for iPhone, the app that — to the surprise of many — was approved by Apple for inclusion in its App Store earlier this month. According to Opera, iPhone users are indeed downloading the app — but are they using it?

For while Apple greenlighted the app, it won’t allow users to set Opera Mini as a default browser. And based on the limited preview numbers provided by Opera, it appears that while Opera Mini is finding its way to iPhones, iPhone users aren’t finding their to the way to the web through Opera Mini.

According to a preview of the report:

  • The iPhone is currently the No. 3 device used by Opera Mini users worldwide; the other top 20 devices are all Nokia and Sony Ericsson handsets.
  • The iPhone is currently the No. 1 device used by Opera Mini users in the U.S., well ahead of BlackBerry (which previously occupied the top spot).
  • By mid-April, due to the iPhone launch, the U.S. jumped to No. 5 from No. 8 in the top 10 countries list.
  • Beyond the top 10 countries, Australia, Korea, Canada, Germany and Japan are other examples of places where the iPhone has become the device of choice for Opera Mini users.

That all sounds good — but is it the result of users finding Opera Mini to be better than Safari, or a reaction to an alternative browser landing on a highly popular phone? Obviously we’ll have to see the full report to answer that question, but Opera does share some additional global information in today’s preview statement by supplying the top 10 handsets of unique users, downloads and page views per user for Opera Mini.

Nowhere is the iPhone mentioned in the Opera Mini global numbers, although I fully expected it would be after reading the iPhone-specific data points. Instead, the global usage numbers are dominated by handsets from Nokia and Sony Ericsson. In fact, two specific Opera statements appear contradictory — how can the iPhone be the No. 3 device “used by Opera Mini users worldwide” and not appear in the top 10 handsets for Opera Mini unique users list? Perhaps it’s that “unique users” qualifier, that in fact only a relatively few iPhone users are accounting for total Opera Mini use on Apple’s handset.

Even stranger to me is that the iPhone is a singular platform as compared to all of the other global handsets mentioned — put another way: a popular device with essentially one model should compete well in a market fractured by so many different handsets. I realize that Nokia has the strongest presence worldwide — the data should and does reflect that. But the iPhone not showing up in the top 10 handsets lends credence to what I thought would happen: iPhone owners may be installing Opera Mini, but for most of them, Safari will still rule the roost.

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