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back to article Opera Mini hits iTunes, awaits Apple verdict

Opera has finally submitted its browser to the iTunes store, daring Apple to reject it, while Firefox has called it a day for the Windows Mobile version of Fennec. Opera has been publicly taunting Apple for a while now, showing off Opera Mini on an iPhone while it ironed out the bugs in an application that few believe Apple will …

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Who's phone is it anyway?

Surely this must fall foul of the same EU anti-competition laws that forced MS to ask us all what browser we wanted to use? Or perhaps the courts don't dislike Apple as much?

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How so?

Microsoft fell foul of the EU for using their existing dominant position in one market in order to distort competition in another. They used money from the desktop to push the price of browsers down to zero, killing Netscape's primary revenue stream, then pushed them from the market completely through bundling.

How is that like this at all? It may be morally equivalent, but factually and legally it's not even slightly similar.

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RE: Who's phone is it anyway?

"Surely this must fall foul of the same EU anti-competition laws that forced MS to ask us all what browser we wanted to use? Or perhaps the courts don't dislike Apple as much?"

Microsoft hasn't banned alternative browsers from WP7S. They have disallowed native code for the time being (according to them, because it's hard to sandbox native code). However, they are allowing exceptions to this rule for their partners, so it's entirely possible that Mozilla would be able to develop a native Firefox for WP7S if they asked (though I don't know how this would affect it being open source).

Mozilla have discontinued Fennec because they don't want to have to/are unable to port their browser to the version of .NET CF running on WP7S.

So it isn't a deliberately anti-competitive move. Besides which, Microsoft isn't absuing it's dominant power in the smartphone market because it hasn't got any.

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All mouth?

And no trousers? It Apple reject it, Opera will have to prove me wrong by releasing it for all those jailbroken iPhones :)

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Big Brother

What put me off Apple

"...offering multiple ways of doing the same thing just confuses users without adding value."

A few years ago an Apple fanboi colleague was moments away from convincing me to get a Mac when he said something very similar. We were talking about how iTunes defaults to organising your music collection as it sees fit.

"What happens if you then want to use something other than iTunes?" I enquired.

"Why would you want to?" came the reply, devoid of any humour. "Apple knows best."

All of a sudden that '1984' commercial seemed incredibly ironic...

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WTF?

Its not difficult.

@AC

"iTunes defaults to organising your music collection as it sees fit."

You un-tick two boxes, and it stops doing that. This is not a complex problem. Why do clueless trolls always gloss over the fact these things are optional? You are trying to make it sound like you don't get a choice.

Now trying to get Windows Media Player 11 to leave your music alone, now THAT'S a problem!

Personally I use iTunes to MANUALLY manage my music. But my default music player for all of my media files is VLC.

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Happy

Choices

You can replace the Engine Management System in your car if you want. You can replace the wheels, add spoilers and all sorts of "custom" kit. I don't want to, even if it promises better performance. I think the car maker knows best. Others, who are really technical, don't agree.

There is a very large sector of society who just want a computer (iPhone included) to work. They don't want to tinker, if they load an application they want to know it isn't going to bugger up their environment.

OK , less choice. OK, perhaps even sub-optimal.

Less headache. Happy customer. Unhappy specialist (like most of the readers of this site).

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Thank you - exactly my point

I have wasted years on Windows, occasionally doubling the pain by making the mistake to help others with their misery (read: you end up permanent technical support).

These days, I have 3 rules:

1 - I do not do technical support for anyone. If you have a problem I will nod sympathetically, but not offer help. It's your problem, and I generously let you keep it for educational purposes

2 - if someone wants to buy a new computer, I suggest they buy a Mac. Too many reasons to list, the main one is that it simply works without the risks of a Windows platform. Support? See nearest Mac shop, Not My Problem.

3 - I default to Open Source for software without being retentive about it. Important is open standards - I also use Linux.

Once my laptops age a bit I'll replace them with Macs as well. I really cannot be asked to waste my life waiting for anti-virus and patches to take place. You moved the mouse - reboot? No thanks. Is that another idiot's kingdom? Well, yes, and I don't care at all.

Key argument: It Works For Me. Not interested in it being "fashion" or saving the world or green or something - my money, my needs, so my decision. Full stop.

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Jobs Horns

iFanboys

"You un-tick two boxes, and it stops doing that. This is not a complex problem. Why do clueless trolls always gloss over the fact these things are optional?"

From what I read, this was never explained to the OP by the Mac fanatic he spoke to, so how was he supposed to know? His question was simply dismissed by the Mactard with confrontational question of why anyone would *want* to not let iTunes manage their music.

How could you miss that basic fact when constructing your reply? It basically constitutes a non-reply on your part when you think about it - Nothing more than an impulsive swipe at the OP because he's a failed convert to your faith.

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WTF?

Why thumbs down?

Seriously, its not difficult.

Fist disable automatic synch. "You will have to reload your pod after this" Then go to iTunes, Preferences, Advanced, un-check, "Keep iTunes Media Folder Organized" also un-check "Copy files to iTunes Media folder when adding to library" And you are done.

This stops iTunes from doing anything to your music library you do not specify, either management or tagging. I do this and I am able "with iTunes launched" to Drag and drop music from directories right into my pod and phone bypassing the iTunes library entirely.

I also don't have to worry that moving my pod between machines or re-installing my OS will synch/wipe my music library.

And whats not to like about VLC player? I use it in Mac, Linux, and Windows.

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FAIL

@ac A real reply.

"From what I read, this was never explained to the OP by the Mac fanatic he spoke to, so how was he supposed to know?"

Um, he took the word of ONE guy? Not even a tech? Would you listen to the word of one random guy on how to use any software no matter the OS? Maybe he could have actually asked someone who knew the answer. I opened the options, figured it out in about five minutes. The first Mac user I asked didn't know either. Most iTunes users apparently WANT their music library managed.

You go on and on about Mac "faith" and Mac users not knowing how to use real computers, then your defense of this fanciful tale of rejection is that reading the program's clearly LABELED options tab is to difficult to comprehend? If someone didn't buy a Mac because they were too stupid to use iTunes, a program used daily by small children, maybe its best he not have a computer at all..

You think setting program options tabs is a mystically difficult act? But you think Mac users are ignorant. Seriously. Think, then type. You are only making yourself sound foolish,

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Grenade

the OP said "defaults"

Not "it doesn't let you do it yourself".

Try reading the post before flaming.

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Jobs Horns

@Dana W

"Um, he took the word of ONE guy? Not even a tech?"

That's right, he had a little chit-chat with an imposing colleague. He wasn't on a fact-finding tour with a clipboard in one hand and a pair of dial callipers in the other. That's how most consumers get their knowledge of products, you'll be amazed to learn. Firefox wouldn't have the market share it has now without this being the way of things.

"You go on and on about... Mac users not knowing how to use real computers, then your defense of this fanciful tale of rejection is that reading the program's clearly LABELED options tab is to difficult to comprehend?"

Yeild! This is a complete work of fiction on your part, woman. I am at a loss as to what stage the squirrels in your head drafted this rewrite. It's even more removed from reality than the last poster I replied to, who was also barking at the poor chap who simply spoke to a smug Mac-worshiping colleague. As far as I can read into the OP's message, he didn't buy any Mac at any stage so you really are fantasising about him operating the thing and going into its menus etc.

"If someone didn't buy a Mac because they were too stupid to use iTunes, a program used daily by small children, maybe its best he not have a computer at all.."

Ah, followed up with a strawman argument. Except you're arguing against nothing that I ever said so it all looks a bit schizophrenic from here. Worse still, you're doing a very wicked and nasty thing of taking vicious swipes at the OP in the unintelligent attempt to have a go at me - a completely different person! Well, if his Mac-loving colleague put him off buying a Mac back then, you'll have just put him off for life. See it from his point of view.

A very touchy bunch, you Mac users. Since iTunes is the worshipful repository unto which all the Mac users hath invested their music for divine management ordained by St Jobs himself, perhaps it should be renamed iTabernacle?

See, I think what's really going on here is three things. Firstly, you're annoyed at infidels not seeing things your way. Secondly, you're annoyed at the OP who *nearly* converted but became a 'lost sale' at the last moment. that must be *so* frustrating, I know. And thirdly, one of your own kind acted with smug ineptitude and not only got his facts wrong but put off a contemplative convert. It's like getting a knock on the door from the police, who tell you that your own flesh and blood has really let the whole family down by being arrested for anti-social behaviour, I guess.

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FAIL

Not this old chestnut, surely

...how many times have we now heard that some people want to organise their music by folders (artist/album/track) rather than by iTunes, even though that's EXACTLY what iTunes does. Play another record, or .mp3.

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Jobs Horns

You're rather impulsive, aren't you?

Isn't the time to write 'back to sleep lads' AFTER the event rather than before?

It's just that you'll only look a gobshite if Apple allow it.

I wonder if Apple get the feeling that someone's watching them. The EU, for instance. Apple may be ignored at the sidelines of the desktop arena whilst Microsoft get pursued by the EU, but it's a different story in the mobile arena. They have enough sales to attract attention if their sharp practices extend there for much longer.

And I seem to recall it was Norway who threatened to prosecute or ban iTunes a few years ago for some rather dodgy downloads practices. I don't think the sunny Californians are quite so toughened up for those long Norwegian winters...

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yep

you're a genius after all. of course apple will allow somebodys else's browser to run flash on their device. what was i thinking.

you're right about the eu as well, they always use their extensive powers in thorough and exacting ways, to make life better for the people who pay their wages.

i will never make gobshite comments again and will continue to bow down to your infinite wisdom. you really should apply for IT manager of the whole of the UK, you'd easily get the job.

i shall now crawl under a rock with my ipod touch and get ready to pay my money on the app store for a shiny, new browser. excellent.

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Paris Hilton

@ richard 69

Just wondering, is '69' a reference to your IQ?

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Anonymous Coward

@Dick69

"i will never make gobshite comments again and will continue to bow down to your infinite wisdom."

If that means you stop spouting shite about Flash in Opera Mini despite being told repeatedly that it DOES NOT display Flash, it's probably the only wise thing you'll do this year.

Take care.

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Jobs Horns

Me too

"Apple can reject anything it likes" and whilst they do, I reject them.

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@richard 69

Sounds more like you've been the one in a cave hibernating since August 10, 2005.

Opera Mini doesn't do flash. It does HTML.

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Opera

It'll be a shame for iPhone users if it does get rejected. I'm using the Beta on Android and, living outside of town and rarely getting one or two bars of GPRS, it's gotten me surfing on my phone like never before!

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@richard 69

@richard 69

You just woken up yourself, have you?

Opera mini doesn't support flash.

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Apple doublespeak

If Apple really believes that "offering multiple ways of doing the same thing just confuses users without adding value", why does it offer Safari for Windows? Why is Safari part of the Browser Choice popup thingy?

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because they can

And Apple don't stop you installing any browser you like on your Mac, either. iPhone is not a user programmable platform, and neither is your car or your TV.

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Boffin

Not if you know how to access your TV's service switch

I added support for south American TV systems (PAL-M/N) and the French SECAM E system to my old world-multi CRT TV by ficking on the service switch inside the case and changing some factory settings. Now, is that not a programmable platform?

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Bad choice of examples.

You can change the engine management software in your car and you can reflash the firmware on your TV - or, at least, I can on mine (Samsung LED TV). The fact that *I* choose not to is irrelevant; the option is still there for me to do it at my own risk, even if it voids the warranty to do so.

Apple, on the other hand, seems dead-set on not even giving you the choice. Why not have an official store (iTunes) but also allow other stores for "non-Apple-Approved" apps? That way, those who want it to "just work" can shop at iTunes and those that want to tinker/mod/whatever can shop elsewhere.

But that'd cut in on Apple's bottom line, so it's unlikely to happen.

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What is a "user programmable platform"?

There are a bazillion apps for the iPhone. Why not have an alternative browser?

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Multiple ways of doing the same thing?

what like shooting things in a game, or one of the 4 or 5 spirit level apps?

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Pint

Safari browser on iPhone is a crash-prone PoS

Here - I'll say it using 'my outer voice':

The Safari browser on the iPhone (3GS) is a crash-prone piece of sh_t. If you have several windows open and you dare to try to manage them (moving from one window to another, maybe closing one on the way past) while another is still loading - crash-and-burn city. It just hangs, you sigh and do the five, four, three, two, one count down until it closes itself. No, I've not jail-broken nor hacked anything. Yes, the OS is up-to-date. Yes, I've reset, reloaded, and restored it several times. Yes, it's been consistent for the past year. No, everything else is good.

Also, has anyone else in The Entire Fricken Universe ever tried to use Google Blogger on an iPhone? It's difficult. Forget about rich text Compose mode. Can't paste a simple URL into the LINK dialog. Sometimes you can't put the cursor at the start of column 1 for all the tea in China. Many similar glitches. Perhaps some of these are Google's fault (?).

There's a lot to like. But it ain't perfect.

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Opera Mini is JUST a terminal!!

- ALL the pages are rendered on the remote server, and then sent as compressed code, for it to display... this means if you can convince opera to render any other 'active' content like flash, the it WOULD be possible to do so... the problem is, how to do it, with a very limited stream of data??

Skyfire already does this, in a far better way, if you believe its fans...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Skyfire_(web_browser)

Unfortunately it is only in beta, ans still not as good as opera, even without the flash support... read this post on the forum...

http://support.skyfire.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=5506

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Headmaster

Opera Mini is not a terminal

Don't be silly, the pages are rendered by the phone. How can you render something *on* the server, especially with the latency of slow mobile networks?

The server interprets the markup and other text files and turns them into Opera's native bytecode. It also squeezes the images to make them as small as possible.

This then gets sent to Opera Mini, which renders it just like any other web browser. How else do you think the page *still* adapts to different screen sizes or interacts with the user, when they trigger Javascript events or CSS rollovers, or look at a news ticker, etc?

If Opera Mini were a terminal it would only be capable of displaying static pages. It's like saying a web browser receiving a Java applet is only a terminal, and that the applet is being 'rendered on the server' on the basis that the server is where the Java bytecode originates. Opera Mini is like a JVM running on the client, one that interprets Opera bytecode instead of Java.

So unless Opera Mini either comes with a Flash player to interact with the user and do all the dynamic things Flash does, or Opera take on the mammoth task of recreating every single feature of Flash as a native browser function and then reliably map Flash 'bytecode' to those native functions (they'll never do it in a million years, nor would anyone else), it's not going to work. The closest thing to a viable alternative is to use somewhat limited CSS3 transformations to do some of the things Flash does, and then let Opera Mini render and animate them. But CSS3 is far from being a good substitute for Flash.

Just think for a minute about what would be involved to let a user hover over an icon that then changes colour, rotates and gets bigger (typical Flash stuff) if it were the server rendering every 'frame' of that animation, then having to send each 176x220 or 240x320 frame down a slow mobile connection to a dumb terminal. It would be like watching interlaced animated GIFs appear line-by-line back in the good old days of 14.4K dialup.

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Nostalgia

"It would be like watching interlaced animated GIFs appear line-by-line back in the good old days of 14.4K dialup."

I remember those days - I was so happy when I got a 28.8K Modem - It was SO much faster.

Nowadays I grumble about my 50Meg broadband if it chokes on me watch streaming TV while patching a game, downloading some new software and surfing the net...

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Opera says it doesn't break Apple's rules.

...which means Opera says it's not actually a browser, just a dedicated app for visiting the Opera mini web servers.

In fact, Opera could simply deliver access to Opera mini servers under Safari couldn't they?

No need for an App, and they bypass all Apple's approval process.

I bet it would be just as fast.

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Headmaster

@sleepy

"Opera could simply deliver access to Opera mini servers under Safari couldn't they?"

No, because how on earth is Safari expected to understand the Opera bytecode sent by the server, or even negotiate Opera's protocols? Safari is a web browser that works with HTML, CSS and Javascript. Opera Mini doesn't understand any of those languages any more than Safari understands the binary data formats Opera Mini uses. It doesn't even contain a text parser.

Unless, of course, you were suggesting that Apple are at all likely to adopt and implement support for Opera's bytecode and protocol specs?

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Jobs Horns

Demo video too aggressive

I'm no lover of Opera as a desktop browser but Opera Mini on mobile phones has always been a joy to use. Proxy privacy issues notwithstanding it's clearly the weapon of choice if you want a speedy, responsive experience. I've used it on three Sony Ericsson handsets and wouldn't dream of using the built-in browser.

So the idea of Opera Mini on the iPhone was intriguing and I was optimistic enough (or perhaps naive enough depending on your viewpoint) to believe that Opera may have stood a small chance of winning Apple over with the argument that it's a client for a back-end server rather than a full-blown rendering engine. What they needed to do was to stress this point while marketing Mini not as a browser replacement per se, but rather as an alternative means of consuming web content. Weasel words perhaps, but with Apple holding all the aces one has to be careful not to piss them off.

Instead they opted for the demo at...

www.youtube.com/watch?v=OpTCS3g-cBY

...which literally lines Opera Mini up right next to Safari and effectively screams, "Look at Apple's crappy browser! Look at how much faster ours is than their POS! Why would anyone use Apple's turd of an application when our walks all over it? See how much we make Apple look like a bunch of incompetents!"

Way to tweak the lion's tail, Opera. I will be stunned if this app gets cleared now. And just to shoot themselves in the foot one final time, Opera's video ends with the voice-over, "Coming soon to the iPhone App Store."

I suspect not.

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Opera the company are too aggressive

Probably they've earnt it though, seeing as how they reinvented the Web last June (see: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2009/06/12/opera_freedom/).

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Go

Tweaking the tail? - More like yanking on it!

It gets better - Opera have a 'count up' timer which they are using to time how long Apple is taking to approve their app.

http://my.opera.com/community/countup/

More power to their elbow I say

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FAIL

@Steve Cass

I suggest posting as AC in the future, so as not to make yourself look a total idiot with clearly idiotic comments that you make.. (However I suspect we will still be able to spot them)

Clearly this is NOTHING like the numerous Microsoft EU anti-trust events. It's Opera submitting an application that conforms to Apples TRC, to test to see if Apple move the goalposts. Nothing more...

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Flame

presumably

you're posting as AC so nobody know who it is who's too thick to use the reply button on the original post?

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Stop

...Because

The cretins that wrote the HTML have coding problems, and under some browsers, the buttons don't appear properly...

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FAIL

okay, let's test your theory about the Reg's HTML

Firefox 3.6 : no problem

IE6 : no problem

IE8 : no problem

Opera : no problem

Chrome : no problem

Safari : no problem

So, do tell, which crappy/out of date browser are you blaming instead of yourself?

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FAIL

More than one way ....

"arguing that offering multiple ways of doing the same thing just confuses users without adding value"

Err, so why are there more than one app to:

add, subtract, multiply, etc (calculator)

locate my parked car

calculate the tip on my restaurant bill

show me share prices on the stock exchange

Tie a Tie

Find out the weather forecast

View webcams

Find train times

Read barcodes

Find the football scores

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FAIL

Errm...?

"Apple has resolutely refused to allow alternative browsers on the iPhone - arguing that offering multiple ways of doing the same thing just confuses users without adding value"

Microsoft provides a browser and lets people install other ways of doing the same thing.

Which of them is getting their arse handed to them by the court?

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Opera's strategy

Opera probably wants Apple to reject their browser so that they can then turn and submit a complaint to the EU.

If the browser ballot shows a clear impact in the browser share, has it seems so far, then there may even be political support for such a complaint.

If, for fear of this, Apple does aprove the browser, then many other companies in the EU and the US could try to widen the "gap in the wall"

May you live in interesting times, Apple...

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Can anyone tell me?

What other web browser apps have been submitted to Apple and rejected? Are there any?

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Won't follow the lead

"but Apple has shown the commercial advantages of being the one in charge so it's only to be expected that many will follow its lead. "

I don't expect it. I think RIM (Blackberry), Google (Android), and any new players., will realize that the whole point of a smartphone is to be able to put your own apps on it (by that definition the IPhone is not even a smartphone -- otherwise, every phone Verizon has sold in the last 10 years would be a smartphone, they all had an app store too.) I find it likely newer smartphones will have an app store, but I also think it's likely they will retain methods to install your own apps. Apple and Steve jobs in particular are just control freaks. As for Windows for Phone 7 or whatever, we'll just have to wait and see -- if it only allows apps from an app store, it may not be a true smartphone platform either.

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Jobs Halo

Just searched for browser on the app store

There are loads of web browsers already available on the appstore - do a search for the word browser. Admittedly they're all ones I've never heard of but I downloaded one called Sphere and it worked. Maybe they all use apple's html engine though?

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Anonymous Coward

Existing alternative iBrowsers

Yes exactly, they're just glorified skins for Safari.

If anything, that makes Apple's statements about choice even more damning because this is clearly a policy to conjure up the illusion of choice, when in reality their customers are getting any browser they like as long as it's Safari. The moment a genuine alternative comes along (Opera Mini), its vendor has problems getting it onto the market.

I seem to recall a page on the Microsoft website a few years ago that 'informed' their users of all the wonderful alternatives to Internet Explorer they might like to try. As you can imagine, Mozilla and Opera were not on the list (can't remember if Safari existed at the time), it was purely browser skins like Maxathon that are still MSIE.

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