In-vehicle internet access from the road
Browser market-share stories remain fixated on the desktop, where the battle has raged in earnest since the 1990s. Despite reportedly having millions of users, Opera props up such figures with a low, single-digits market-share that suggests it's little more than an also-ran. However, Opera has had significantly more success in mobile, having gained 200 million users of Opera Mini and Opera Mobile, mainly in countries where people use low-powered devices and hanker for the kind of bandwidth-usage reductions Opera Mini can provide.
Opera is also finding favour in growing niche markets, and the latest is in powering CarBrowser for Pioneer's AppRadio receivers. An Opera press release stated that the new app "provides complete in-vehicle access to the internet" on Pioneer's 6.1in and 7in touchscreen displays, with content optimised for an in-car environment. Users can sync favourites from a computer or mobile device, and Opera said the system bucks the trend of vendor-specific walled gardens, in providing "the best internet encounter with virtually no limitations". Additionally, the system only works when a vehicle is parked and the handbrake engaged, thereby ensuring you won't fling your car off a cliff while tweeting a message about how nice the view from the road is.
"You no longer need to duct tape your iPad to the dashboard to access the web while on the move," enthused Frode Hernes, Opera Software's vice president of products for connected devices. "It is exciting to turn the mobile web browser into the automobile web browser. The Pioneer CarBrowser App powered by Opera Mini is an intuitive and responsive browser so you can get the information you need extremely fast and get going on the road." It also showcases how browsers increasingly have reach away from the desktop, tablets and smartphones, and that relatively minor players on the desktop can succeed elsewhere should they innovate.