Opera turns into a cash cow for operators?

In the latest Opera State of the Mobile Web Report Opera show that Opera Mini generates nearly $1.25 billion per year for mobile operators in just the top 10 countries for Opera Mini. With the United States leading the way with Opera Mini generating more than $146 per user per year.

Big numbers at last! But the numbers should be treated with a little suspicion.

In February 2010, people browsing with Opera Mini (in the top 10 countries according to unique users) spent approximately $103.8 million (around $1.25 billion per year in the top 10 countries).

Opera also works out that using $1 per megabyte as a global average, Opera Mini users generate nearly $4 billion for operators worldwide each year, although what they don’t account for are users with “all you can eat” monthly and daily tariffs where the user isn’t charged by the megabyte.

From a per-user perspective, Opera Mini users spent approximately $4 on average in the month of February, which comes out to $48 per year. The heaviest spending occurs in the United States ($146.40 user/year) and the United Kingdom ($102/user/year), whereas the least spending occurs in India ($8.76/user/year) and South Africa ($11.52/user/year).

“We like to think of Opera Mini as a win-win solution,” said Jon von Tetzchner, co-founder, Opera. “Consumers who would otherwise not pay for the mobile Web can do so without fear of ‘sticker shock’ when they see their bill. People paying for a flat-rate data plan can enjoy quick and hassle-free browsing over EDGE or 3G connections. Operators attract new customers for their data packages, and their strained networks can catch their breath while our servers do the heavy lifting.”

Regardless of whether we trust all of the figures in the report what we do like is the continued growth in the market and some independent spending figures on mobile users. Here’s the highlights for UK users

  • Page-view growth since February 2009: 54.6%
  • Unique-user growth since February 2009: 44.9%
  • Page views per user: 265
  • Data transferred per user (MB): 5
  • Data transferred per page view (KB): 20

After a 5-month absence, eBay is back on the top 10 list in the United Kingdom.

Top 10 sites in the United Kingdom (unique users)

  1. facebook.com
  2. google.com
  3. bbc.co.uk
  4. yahoo.com
  5. wikipedia.org
  6. live.com
  7. youtube.com
  8. my.opera.com
  9. pocketgear.com
  10. ebay.co.uk