Opera: web has to catch up with apps

Opera has admitted the web has fallen behind apps as a platform, but claims it’s making up for lost ground.

Opera: web has to catch up with apps

The Norwegian browser maker puts a heavy focus on web standards and the openness of the web as a platform, believing it to be a better model than the “walled garden” offered by mobile app stores.

However, executives at Opera admit the web has fallen behind in terms of functionality, taking longer to offer features such as location-based tools, but claim it’s catching up.

“The web sometimes is slower… the apps have shown us things we’d like to do, and the web needs time to catch up to get standards into place, but it will happen,” Opera’s chief technology officer Hakon Wium Lie said at an event here in Oslo.

“People have been doing these [features] in the app store, and the web is catching up, and I think we’re going to do it better by reaching more people,” he said.

For example, he pointed out Opera’s new page system, which reformats text into pages to get rid of side scroll bars. Such a UI already exists in apps, but Opera’s system is open and meets web standards, so other browser makers can adopt it. “This is not something we want to keep secret, we want to work with other vendors on it,” he said.

He claimed that some current web apps are little more than bookmarks. “Some of those [native] apps too are just bookmarks too,” he noted. “You’ll see the whole range there… maybe that’s how bookmarks should have been in the first place.”

He added that Apple, Amazon and Google make more money out of their mobile apps than Opera does with its web apps, but said he’s not worried about “the monetisation of things”.

The web isn’t as well “attended” as the walled-garden of apps, he said, “but it’s a much more interesting place,” adding: “we have room for all the content out there and all the languages out there.”

Wium Lie said the move to open standards may be a slow one, but even giants such as Microsoft can be pushed to change its ways. “We used to have a terrible problem with IE6… as it [Microsoft] sees its position weaken, it comes on more with standards,” he said.

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