Browser-maker Opera has inked a licensing agreement with Microsoft that will see its browser become the default for all phones on Microsoft’s (Nokia) Series 30+, Series 40 and Asha software platforms.
Windows Phone may be struggling to rival iOS and Android on market share — despite a number of quality devices — but the Nokia brand, which Microsoft now owns, remains strong in the emerging world. We noted that when Microsoft launched the $25 Nokia 130 earlier this month, a move that signaled its intention to remain in the entry-level market because “Microsoft doesn’t have any other project that can reach these consumers.”
The licensing deal means that new Microsoft phones running on its non-Windows Phone platforms will include the Opera Mini browser pre-installed. But it isn’t just for new purchases — existing owners of these devices will be prompted to upgrade to the browser, which has more 250 million users across a range of platforms.
The Nokia 130 was announced earlier this month
“This is a great opportunity to spread the benefits of Opera Mini to millions more consumers in our core markets. There are still massive numbers of people who have not moved to smartphones, but Opera Mini can provide them with an amazing browsing experience right now,” said Lars Boilesen, CEO of Opera, in a statement.
The move certainly makes a lot of sense, and it may not be the only smartphone-like experience being brought to ‘dumb’ phones. Microsoft has confirmed to TNW that it has plans to bring a range of services — which could include Skype and its OneDrive cloud storage service — to basic Nokia-branded phones in the future.
The goal is to get new users into the Microsoft ecosystem in the hope that that will compel them to buy other devices from the company when they upgrade to a smartphone.
Despite this deal, the company is putting its focus behind Windows Phone after announcing that it will transition its Android-based Nokia X devices to the platform, and cease the development of its Asha range and other low-end platforms. Though, as the Nokia 130 launch proves, it will continue to release some basic feature phones… for now.