Opera Software today launched an offering that enables users to access the mobile web without a data plan. Opera Web Pass, as it’s called, can be used to purchase access by the hour or the day, as TechCrunch reports, or to use specific sites and services on the mobile web.
This is a great move from Opera on several levels: It supports smartphones in addition to feature phones, which have long benefited from the company’s technology that formats traditional web content for smaller screens. And it expands the functionality of its popular Mini browser as the era of web-based apps slowly matures beyond the embryonic stage.
And while today’s news from Opera has received little attention here in the U.S., Web Pass seems much more suited to the emerging markets that are so important to the company’s mobile business. Indeed, the lone carrier partner at launch is Malaysia’s DiGi Telecommunications Sdn Bhd. I don’t think there’s much of a market for Web Pass in North America, where a variety of postpaid and prepaid data plans fill the needs of most consumers, but it could be a big hit in emerging markets for users who don’t access the mobile web frequently.