Opera has been trying to return to its glory days not by pushing its web browser to mobile but by offering value added services that aim to curb mobile data expenses. It’s Opera Max app, which has just recently expanded to 21 countries in Asia, tries to compress data that is sent to smartphones. Now the app has gotten a new feature in the form of “App Pass”, which is just a fancy marketing term for sponsored access to some apps.
While Opera Max tries to cut down on data usage through compression, apps still naturally use some data, no matter how small. The idea for the new Opera Max App Pass feature is for mobile operators to offer shouldering those data expenses to some extent. Maybe it will be a time limited promotion or it will be limited to a specific data cap. Either way, it sounds like a tempting offer for users who want to escape what is commonly called as “bill shock”.
Offering limited free access to apps and services is nothing really new. In fact, Opera itself had such a feature before called Web Pass, which offered the same limited free access to certain websites, with carriers bearing the cost of the access. What do the carriers get in return? Exposure, added customer loyalty, and perhaps even new customers.
Of course, the feature doesn’t mean that all Opera Max users will get this advantage, as it requires a partnership with mobile operators to implement. Right now, App Pass is being tested by carrier Telenor Digital in some parts of Asia. Considering the current coverage of Opera Max, it is more likely to spread to developing markets first before it goes into more mature markets, if at all.