Look out, Apple iPhone -- the Web browsing experience on rival smartphones just got a whole lot better.
That's the message from solution provider fans of the Opera Mini 5 beta Web browser for smartphones that was released this week.
Solution providers say Opera Software's Opera Mini 5 represents the easiest-to-use Web browser for the widest range of smartphones. The product runs on smartphones that support Java. There also is a special version that supports BlackBerry.
"This could throw a wrench into Apple's plans to become the dominant leader in the mobile Web application market," said Tyler Dikman, president and CEO of Cooltronics, a Tampa, Fla., solution provider. "Opera is bringing a level of Web browser standardization that the market has never seen before."
Dikman himself just dumped his Apple iPhone with AT&T cellular service six weeks ago in favor of a BlackBerry Tour running Verizon. "I liked Apple's design," he said. "But my phone constantly crashed and the AT&T service just never worked. It was just a terrible service."
Dikman said he loves the BlackBerry Tour, which can run the new Opera Mini 5. "It's a great phone," he said. "It's extremely fast and never crashes. I'd rather have a stable, fast phone that works with less apps than a phone loaded to the brim with features and apps that doesn't work half the time and has poor phone service."
Dikman said Opera Mini 5 could represent somewhat of a landmark for unifying the Web browsing experience on the broad, diverse set of smartphones. "Smartphone makers should focus on the hardware and let third-party companies like Opera deal with software and browsers," he said.
Opera Mini 5 could open the door for more app developers to build applications once for the browser rather than dozens of times for each different smartphone, Dikman said. "I think Opera is going to give Apple a run for its money," he said. "There are a lot of consumers right now sitting on the sidelines waiting for Apple to get rid of AT&T."
Among the top new features for Opera Mini 5 are support for tabbed browsing, which allows users to view several Web sites at the same time and jump easily between them; speed dialing, which allows users to get to favorite Web sites more quickly; and a password manager that allows users to log on to e-mail and social networking sites with just one click.