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(Pocket-lint) - Opera Software, the company behind the popular browser of the same name, will launch a new smartphone and tablet browser called Opera Ice in February, Pocket-lint can exclusively reveal. It is an attempt to stay relevant and take the fight to Google and Apple in the mobile browser stakes. 

In a video shown to us of an internal "all-hands" meeting held before Christmas, Lars Boilesen, CEO of Opera, outlined the company's strategy for 2013. Afterwards, product managers took to the stage to demo the new browser, which will be run on the WebKit, not Presto, platform.

The new Opera Ice browser will be based around hiding the technology as much as possible and embracing rich applications. It will ditch all buttons and instead use gestures to control key elements like forwards and backwards.


"This is a full touch and tablet-focused browser," said the product manager in the video we've seen. "Most are taking a PC browser and squishing [it] into a tablet, or they are taking a mobile browser and blowing it up to fill the space."

An edited down version of the Opera staff meeting - including a demo of new browser Opera Ice

In the meeting, the creator of the browser showed off a beta version of the software. Tabs will be replaced with icons on a homepage, while new pages are accessed via search or typing in a URL. If users want to bookmark a page they can tap a part of the screen and then place an icon for that page on the opening screen. Nefarious sites will come up with a warning sign, blocking you from accessing them.

"We need to go into a new phase, we need to lift our games on certain areas to ensure we continue to grow," said Boilesen to those present, in what is a rather frank and candid chat to staff in the behind-closed-doors meeting.

Seeing that smartphones are going to be critical for the future of the company, Boilesen said, Opera will focus its efforts on releasing the new browser on schedule in February for iOS and Android.

"We need to focus on getting strong products out on iOS and Android. These are the two leading platforms we will focus on… They are the ones phones are being sold for," he said.

Boilesen doesn’t rule out launches for Windows Phone, however, having stated that it wasn't a priority until sales of Microsoft OS-powered handsets picked up.

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The reason for the move is that, while the CEO believes Opera mini is good, it has its drawbacks compared to other browsers on the market.

"Opera mini is great, but it is not a fully-fledged offering like Chrome or Safari. There are too many sites it doesn't work with."

He later stressed in the meeting, however, that the company would not be ditching Opera mini: "Mini is super important … It needs to be a platform where we create users and then migrate those users to over to our smartphone products."

Boilesen said there would also be a desktop Opera browser launched in March.

Writing by Stuart Miles.
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