iPhone users wasted no time in downloading the new Opera Mini Web browser [App Store, Free], putting the app in the number one free download slot in 22 international app stores. The new browser is the first true third party web browser to appear on Apple's iPhone OS.
When Opera originally announced plans to release a version of their browser for the iPhone, many were skeptical that it would be allowed entry into the app store. In the past there have been numerous cases of Apple rejecting apps that "duplicated functionality" of their core apps, such as Mail or the Phone app. Opera Mini was most likely accepted because it is a different kind of web browser than Safari. One of the major differences between the two browsers is how they render and display web pages.
Opera announced today that they have submitted their mobile browser to the iTunes App Store, and that they fully expect to be approved. However, Apple has rejected apps in the past for duplicating the functionality of the built-in apps, such as Podcaster and MailWrangler, despite the concept of duplicate functionality not being in the SDK Agreement. The browsers that Apple has approved are built on the Safari developer kit engine, and simply provide add-ons to Mobile Safari, like private browsing.
Mozilla, the company synonymous with their free open-source web browser that's helping to take back the internet for desktop machines, has announced that Firefox will not be coming to the iPhone. Responding to questions from ElectricPig.co.uk, Mozilla's European president, Tristan Nitot, said that Firefox on the iPhone isn't an option with Apple's current restrictions on web browsers that would compete with Mobile Safari.
Last week we told you about the rejection of the Opera web browser for the iPhone from the App Store, as reported by the NY Times. Since then, however, Daring Fireball's John Gruber has done some digging around and has found some new evidence that this may not actually have been the case.
With the controversy around Apple's removal of several apps like Podcaster, there's been some uncertainty about exactly what would be able to get into the App Store. Well, now we can check web browsers off the list. The NY Times wrote about Opera Software earlier today, in which they revealed that the Opera browser has already been submitted and rejected from the App Store.
Apple has made it pretty clear that they have no intention of allowing apps into the App Store that compete with things like the iPod app, but apparently they aren't so protective with Mobile Safari. Cooliris, the futuristic graphic-based 3D web browser extension for the Mac and PC, was recently released as an app in the iPhone's App Store.