Mobile phones most popular means for Africans to access the web
In June 2012, over 200 million people used the browsers, with 17 million on Opera Mobile and the rest on Opera Mini. This represents 47 per cent year-on-year combined growth. Opera added that Opera Mini during the month 'saved' its users downloading about 18 petabytes of data, due to the browser's data compression techniques.
More striking, perhaps, is the manner in which Opera is being used worldwide. The company's report highlights Africa, and said it is "in the midst of a mobile web browsing transformation". With the country often lacking robust fixed-line infrastructure, not "only do more people have mobile phones, but mobile phones are the most popular means for Africans across the continent to access the web," according to the report. Lars Boilesen, CEO, Opera, said that for many users in Africa, a browser is more than just a tool to 'browse the web': "Sometimes it's a school when you can afford none, sometimes it's the only line to an outside world shut off by an oppressive regime. Providing a service that reliably and cheaply delivers critical information to just about everyone with a phone is the reason Opera makes browsers. We want to make a difference in the world, not only on the web."
Backing up Boilesen's comments are figures showing 47 per cent of countries having international news sites as the most popular news source. For web designers working on sites with such worldwide appeal, it's essential, as mobile expert Peter-Paul Koch said earlier this year, that developers don't only focus their mobile efforts on WebKit for iOS and Android and at least ensure they test in browsers likely to be used in countries where lower-end hardware is more commonplace.