iPhone version of Opera Mini is Not Rejected from the App Store? [Updated]

BY Jason

Published 2 Nov 2008

iPhone 3G and AT&T

We had reported that Apple had rejected the iPhone version of Opera Mini. It was widely speculated that the app could have got rejected because it was a direct competition to
iPhone’s Safari browser.

That might not be completely accurate as John Gruber of Daring Fireball who had first reported the news has done some more digging and is reporting that though the news that Opera had developed an iPhone version of Opera Mini was true, they haven’t submitted the iPhone app to Apple for it be rejected based on information from some informed sources. 

We had reported that Jon Stephenson von Tetzchner, co-founder and CEO of Opera had told New York Times in an interview that:

engineers have developed a version of Opera Mini that can run on an
Apple iPhone, but Apple won’t let the company release it because it
competes with Apple’s own Safari browser."

However, John Gruber believes that the statement by CEO of Opera might not be a direct quote by him but something that was paraphrased by New York Times correspondent, Saul Hansell.

John had speculated that one of the reasons the app might have got rejected was because Opera Mini was using its own Javascript interpreter which is not permitted by iPhone SDK’s agreement.

He has clarified that his speculation was wrong as after some research he had found out that Opera Mini does not include its own interpreter. He explains:

"In a nut, it works like this: You request a URL in Opera Mini. Opera
Mini makes the request to a proxy server run by Opera. Opera’s proxy
server connects to the web server hosting the requested URL, and
renders the page into an image. This image is then transmitted (in a
proprietary format called OBML — Opera Binary Markup Language) to the
Opera Mini client. Opera Mini displays the rendered image on screen.
This may sound convoluted, but apparently the result is very effective
— it’s faster to transmit, because only OBML (a compressed binary
format) is transmitted to the mobile device over the phone network, and
far faster to render on slow mobile processors."

Since Opera Mini for other mobile platforms is developed using Java which is not supported on the iPhone, Opera would have to port Opera Mini to C and Objective-C APIs to be able to submit their iPhone app to the App Store. 

So it appears that Jon Stephenson’s statement was probably his interpretation of the situation based on iPhone’s SDK agreement.

However, even if Opera manages to develop an iPhone version of Opera Mini that conforms to iPhone SDK’s agreement, the danger of it getting rejected still remains as Apple has previously rejected iPhone Apps like Podcaster because it duplicated the functionality of the Podcast section
of iTunes.

There have been no official statements from either Apple or Opera to clarify the situation.


An Opera employee has commented on this controversy:

"It’s pretty well known by now that Apple blocks competitors from their store. I’m not sure if we’ve ever confirmed that we actually had Opera Mini ready for the iPhone, but now you know that it does exist.

And now you know what keeps you from running Opera on your iPhone."

Mac Rumors speculates that "it is possible that Apple and Opera have been communicating via channels outside of the App Store submission process."

Based on the above comments it does hint that whatever discussions Opera had with Apple did not go off too well.

An official statement from either Apple or Opera would sort this out for good rather than everyone (including us) trying hard to read between the lines.

Update (Nov 04, 2008):

Saul Hansell from New York Times who had interviewed Jon Stephenson von Tetzchner, co-founder and CEO of Opera has got some clarifications from Mr. von Tetzchner on the issue.

Continue reading iPhone version of Opera Mini Will Not be Coming to the App Store.

Stay tuned here at iPhone Hacks, we will keep you posted as the story develops.

What do you think?

[via Daring Fireball]

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