Now that most of us are essentially swimming in 3G signals on a daily basis, it’s easy to forget that a solid percentage of the world still has to make do with GPRS. Telecom giant Vodafone hasn’t forgotten though, and they’re taking a novel approach to making sure the developing world gets their mobile internet fix: they’ll pre-load Opera Mini on 20 low-end phone models.
Just a quick recap on how Opera Mini works: it uses server-side compression to strip out the unnecessary bloat from websites users visit, and in turn reduces the amount of bandwidth necessary to display a page. That means, among other things, lower incurred data costs and faster page loads. This particular flavor of Opera Mini will also feature a number of tweaks to make it more accessible to those who either can’t read, or can’t read very well.
Vodafone obviously isn’t doing it out of the goodness of their hearts; the developing world represents a huge untapped market for data penetration. Revenue will be generated from the string of “highly affordable data tariffs” they have in the works, which (if it turns out to be as popular as they hope) could result in some serious cash flows. Still, it’s always nice to see an intersection between corporate interests and providing people with a valuable service.
The initiative will go live in India, South Africa, Turkey, Tanzania and Egypt first, with other markets to follow.