The combined number of mobile users around the world using the Opera Mini mobile Web browser has hit 200 million users per month for the first time, the Norway-based company said today.
At the same time, users in Africa are leading the uptake in mobile browsing thanks to Facebook, despite the social network's monthly active users remaining mostly flat month-on-month in the past quarter at 955 million.
The makers of the Opera browser have released their monthly State of the Mobile Web report, which looks at its product usage across more than 50 countries.
Out of the 200 million users, Opera Mini -- for non-smart devices or "feature" phones -- has 92 percent of all users at 183 million, while Opera Mobile -- designed for smartphones -- has the minority 8 percent at 17 million.
Opera Mini users alone accounted for more than 115 billion pageviews in 2012, an increase of more than 55 percent year over year.
Opera said it reached its milestone in June, thanks to a surge in users in Africa. Facebook tops the charts in all African countries where Opera has a presence, with the exception of Algeria, Angola, and Guinea, where Google stands at the top of the charts.
While Africa continues to develop, slower mobile networks still make loading pages a tedious process. Opera changes this by using data compression technology, similar to how BlackBerry devices work when browsing and sending and receiving e-mail.
Opera Mini is famed for its data compression, which squeezes data by as much as 90 percent -- a highly useful function in areas of the world, such as Africa, that have limited mobile connectivity over vast spaces. In June, Opera Mini users generated over 2.01 billion megabytes of data, but would have stood at 20 petabytes if the data were uncompressed.
The firm showed in May that usage of Opera Mini and Opera Mobile users grew steadily, despite a couple of dips in the process. Compared to May 2011, usage was up from 47 percent on last year's report. However, Opera Mini retains the lead over its smartphone counterpart with 36 countries on the continent more than doubling their use of the data-squeezing browser.
Since the 2011 revolution in Libya, Opera said that north African country has grown the most out of any country in Africa in user numbers, page views counted, and data consumption.
The country, which suffered through Internet shutdowns and online oppression and censorship, saw a 323,000 percent increase in mobile users, a 1.8 million percent boost in page views, and a 1.5 million percent jump in data usage.
Mobile remains an important medium for those in politically troubled areas of Africa, such as the Ivory Coast, which showed a massive growth in users; a 600 percent rise in users in one year, while page views grew by 744 percent. Data outpaced the growth in pageviews by 760 percent, which as Opera noted, shows that Africans are browsing larger, richer, and more advanced pages.
"For many of them, a browser is more than a tool to 'browse the web'. Sometimes it's a school when you can afford none, sometimes it's the only line to an outside world shut off by an oppressive regime," said Opera chief executive Lars Boilesen. "We want to make a difference in the world, not only on the web."