HWM (Malaysia) - - CONTENTS - by Mar­cusWong

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.

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