FABRIZIO CARUSO, OPERA SOFTWARE ASIA
FABRIZIO CARUSO SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT, OPERA SOFTWARE ASIA
What kind of devices make up the mobile Internet landscape now?
We have more than 275,000 mobile device users on Opera, so what we see is that Android is really the fastest growing segment; with a shift from feature phones to smartphones. We’re seeing a large uptake of Android phones as the price of an Android device has really come down.
How has this evolved in the last five years?
The last five years has seen tremendous change. Everyone expected smartphones to grow, but even markets in Southeast Asia which were traditionally feature phone dominated markets were now shifting to smartphones. Frankly speaking, if you asked us this question two years ago, we wouldn’t have been able to give the same answer.
Users tend to browse more now; both on feature phones and on smartphones. But obviously they browse more on Android because they have a much better experience, and the device is better. You can now have really good Android devices for under US$50, which means people can start to afford smart devices. Cost of data is also becoming more affordable, so when you have good devices paired with affordable cost, people come online.
There is a general hunger for information. People want to come online to browse, to be on the Internet and to be interconnected. So, we see Android phones really driving the growth of mobile Internet.
Where or how does the Internet of Things factor into this?
I think it’s sort of a natural evolution. As people are more connected – especially in more developed markets – you have good smartphones with lots of apps. You start with the normal use cases – social media, Internet browsing and so on, but now you have apps that are connected to your appliances at home and can switch on your air-con while you’re on your way back from work.
I think it’s still at the beginning, but is also a natural evolution of what we’re seeing in the mobile world. And in my opinion, will become quite big in the future.
We’re seeing increased security breaches these days. Should the software/service industry be held accountable or is user education the key?
I think it’s both, to be honest. Obviously, users have to be educated to be wary of leaving confidential information around, but on the software side, we have to be accountable.
We take privacy and security very seriously at Opera. For instance, if you want to browse a secure site like a bank, we will just divert the traffic straight to your bank, and not touch it at all. We also have some security features in our newest product, Coast (for iOS devices). There is a plugin in the browser that warns you if you browse a website that may have threats. So the browser itself will advise you to be careful. So, it’s on both sides.
Cisco forecasts a 61% compound growth for global mobile data from 2013-2018. As users demand faster, richer content delivery, how is Opera handling the data crunch?
As you may know, compression has been a main feature of Opera Mini since 2005. The browser was built to compress data to make Internet data cheaper and faster for consumers, which is why we became so popular in the developing markets, where the network capabilities may not be as good as more developed markets.
This is crucial because data and the reach of services are really exploding. So, compression technology is available in pretty much all of our products, and we’ve expanded our capabilities – last year, we acquired a company called Skyfire which specializes in video compression.
That’s very important because in terms of the data crunch, video is probably the worst. If your email is a few seconds late, it’s not a good experience, but it’s not that bad. If you’re talking about video though, having the video stall annoys people, and they simply don’t watch it.
So, you want to watch video at a smooth rate, without any delays or visibly degrading the quality of the experience. Thankfully, there’s lots of room for compression when you watch it on a small screen.
What’s next for the Internet?
If you look at the content side, I’d say for sure video. I mean, already today video makes up about 50% of the total data consumption, and analysts predict it’s going to go up to 70% or more in a couple of years (by 2018). So that trend is staying, and people are hungry for video.
In terms of devices, I think we’ll see the rise of wearables. I think that’s here to stay, so those are the two main trends. I think we’ll see people streaming video on many kinds of devices.