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Nikkei: Nintendo drops Opera in favor of...Netfront, for the 3DS.
News reported by 
Editor
February 27, 2011, 10:56:22
 
It appears that Nintendo is switching over to a new format for the internet browser on the 3DS. For those of you who aren't familiar with NetFront, it's the browser used on the PSP and PS3. Nikkei, a reputable Japanese newspaper, has provided the following information concerning the new deal:

Nikkei said:
ACCESS, an embedded software developer, will be providing the new web browser for the Nintendo 3DS, a portable game console launched by Nintendo in Japan on the 26th of February. Nintendo expects to provide the new internet functionality in May, through the distribution of a software update. The 3DS will be available for sale in the United States and Europe in March.

ACCESS will be providing their NetFront browser, which has been adopted by more than a billion devices, including mobile phones and TV's.

SOURCE**

This change in format may come as a disappointment to some, considering its performance on some of the other gaming devices like the PSP, or PS3. However, there have been some reported improvements with the browser in terms of performance, as well as many user-end features that many other mobile browsers are completely devoid of. Here are the following specs for ACCESS' latest mobile browser, with notable features marked in bold:

Specifications | NetFront Browser v4.1

{New in NetFront Browser v4.1}

* High Speed JavaScript Engine

{Supported Standards}
Compliant with the OMA Browsing 2.3 specification

{Markup}
cHTML, HTML 5 (Partial), HTML 4.01, XHTML1.1, XHTML Mobile Profile 1.2, WML 1.3, SMIL 2.1, RSS feed (RSS 0.9/0.91/0.92/1.0/2.0, Atom 0.3/1.0)

{Stylesheets}
CSS1, CSS2.1, CSS3 (Partial), CSS MP1

{Advanced Scripting}

* ECMAScript 262 3rd Edition
* ECMAScript Mobile Profile
* WMLScript
* DOM Level 1, Level 2
* Dynamic HTML
* Ajax (XMLHttpRequest)

{Protocols}

* HTTP 1.0/1.1
* WAP
* IPv4/IPv6 Dual TCP/IP

{Security}

* SSL3/TLS1.0
* Crypto modules

{Memory Requirements}

* ROM: 2MB-4MB (Kernel +SLIM)
* RAM: 2MB- (Depending on complexity of content viewed)

{Main Features}

* Tabbed Multi-Window support
* Column Rendering
* Stick Navi
* Swift Navi
* PagePilot (Smooth pan and zoom navigation)
* Visual Bookmarks
* Virtual Pointer (Pointing device emulation)
* Smart-Fit Rendering™
* Rapid-Render™
* Intelligent Frame Handling (Select and zoom individual frames)
* Continuously adjustable Zooming/Animated Zoom
* Offline Browsing and Page/Image Saving
* Word Wrap, Line boundary character check
* Streaming Download
* DirectConnect (Secure monitoring and control of devices from the browser)
* Intelligent Pop-Up Blocker
* Integrated Internet Search Menu
* Auto Form-Filling
* Authentication Manager
* International Domain Name

{Supported Operating Systems}

* Linux® (ACCESS Linux Platform™, Android™, Qt/Embedded, Qtopia, GTK+, and others)
* Symbian OS (Series 60 and UIQ)
* Garnet™ OS
* BREW, REX OS
* Microsoft® Windows® CE family, Microsoft® Windows Mobile® (Pocket PC, Smartphone)
* VxWorks
* Nucleus
* ITRON
* Others (OS-9, OSE etc.)

{Supported CPUs}

* ARM®
* XScale
* StrongARM®
* PowerPC
* MIPS
* SH-Mobile and others

{Plug-In and Extension Modules}

NetFront™ SMIL Player & SVG Viewer
SMIL and SVG modules can be implemented as plug-ins or as stand-alone players for advanced 3G push services with rich multimedia content.

NetFront™ Document Viewer
NetFront™ Document Viewer enables full viewing of PDF files and Microsoft Office documents including Word, Excel®, and PowerPoint® on mobile handsets.

Flash®, Flash® Lite™
NetFront Browser provides a ready-to-use interface to integrate Adobe® Flash® Player supporting Flash content embedded within a Web page.

MascotCapsule (HI)
MascotCapsule is a 3D rendering engine that supports the display of visually rich 3D games or other 3D content on mobile devices.



For more information on the NetFront browser, click here.

**The above quote is a rough interpretation of a google translation. The source has been linked to its original language for veracity.

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Posted: 02/27/11, 10:56:22  - Edited by 
 on: 02/28/11, 00:43:00    
 
Why not sign up for a (free) account and create your own content?
 
@casper884

It's a slick little browser, though it's a little slow IMO.


Posted by 
 on: 03/01/11, 01:53:05
Yeah, it could definitely use a speed boost. But I'm speaking purely on the interface and functionality. I haven't seen anything like it on any other mobile phone.

Of course, the 3DS will probably be nothing like that, but the point is that not all NetFront browsers are crappy, and the PSP/PS3 ones are pretty much the worse implementations of NetFront, but by no means the standard.


Posted by 
 on: 03/01/11, 02:03:04  - Edited by 
 on: 03/01/11, 02:04:09
@casper884
I tried the Netfront Life browser today too, I found it super slow, about 1/5th the speed of Opera*, and a lot of funky stuff happened, like when I tried to load the apple.com site it couldn't render the tabs/buttons along the top of the screen, that area was just gray... I dunno it seem pretty crappy to me, just like the PSP browser except it had tabs and a fancy (but painfully slow) graphical interface for bookmarks and history.

Hopefully, for the 3DS Nintendo works with them to make something functional, I'd rather have fast than fancy, just get me on gamefaqs.

*to be fair though, I have a crappy phone (Samsung Intercept) compared to most Android devices these days, I'm sure a newer/better phone would perform better.


Posted by 
 on: 03/01/11, 03:18:40  - Edited by 
 on: 03/01/11, 03:28:52
@casper884

They have a launcher that has a really neat, unique interface. But it's not for me.

A) it's geared more for people who use social media.
B) my phone is too slow for it.


Posted by 
 on: 03/01/11, 03:50:27
casper884 said:
Well, I've looked at the recent Netfront Life browser for the Android and Opera doesn't have any mobile browser remotely as innovative as that.

Sure, Opera could have provided whatever features Nintendo requested, but that doesn't mean that their implementation would be guaranteed to be satisfactory for Nintendo. Lots of browsers have similar functionality, but it's the execution that sets them apart. Either way, I'm not too concerned. Nintendo was heavily involved in the Wii and DSi's development of their Opera browsers. I would imagine it will be the same with NetFront.

Anyway, in regards to the Internet Channel dropping the price, the company I work for was actually somewhat involved in that process. The decision was most based on consumer feedback.
It doesn't really matter what Netfront is like on Android (and flashy features won't help if they aren't actually useful). As you can see on the Wii and DS, those browsers are very different from the "normal" Opera.

It is well known that Netfront is a lower quality browser than Opera, so it seems clear that this is a way to cut costs for Nintendo.

But my main point was that Nintendo hasn't really been doing its best with the browser. It's like more of an afterthought, so it makes sense to go for a cheaper browser than Opera.


Posted by 
 on: 03/01/11, 11:24:37
casper884 said:
the point is that not all NetFront browsers are crappy.
I do think there's a reason why Opera has 20-25% of the mobile browser market (mostly from people installing and using it themselves), and Netfront is nowhere to be seen... As you can see from the Netfront browser on Android, the text doesn't seem to wrap properly, so it isn't very suited for small screens...

There are some gimmicks here and there on Netfront, but what matters is usability.


Posted by 
 on: 03/01/11, 11:26:59  - Edited by 
 on: 03/01/11, 11:27:39
@rumplar

First, let me say that no one here is denying the quality of Opera, it's a great browser, but that doesn't mean that NetFront will ALWAYS be inferior. If you believe that, then you're pretty biased.

Secondly, you are grossly misinformed.

-Netfront is on over a billion devices and comes stock on millions of cell phones or other mobile devices. It's hardly 'nowhere to be seen'. Many people just don't realize the browser that they're using is NetFront.

- Nintendo's work with Opera is the exact opposite of an 'afterthought'. Read the Iwata's Asks and grab a little insight into the development process of the browsers before making such claims. Nintendo's employees made daily visits for several months working on the browser, while most companies using NetFront have ACCESS devolop a browser for them independently.

Anyway, my point about NetFront life was not to suggest that the 3DS browser will be like that, but that the PSP/PS3 browsers are hardly the standard for NetFront, and they have made some significant improvements. On top of that, Nintendo is sure to be involved with development, and performance will be a priority (like it was on the DSi), so I'm not expecting NetFront on the 3DS to be one of ACCESS' poorer efforts.


Posted by 
 on: 03/01/11, 13:18:45  - Edited by 
 on: 03/01/11, 13:44:13
@casper884
Netfront is on billions of devices because it's the budget default browser that companies package with their phones in order to save cost. The first thing almost everyone does with they buy a smartphone is download a commercial browser that works better.

The thing about Opera is that people choose to use it even when they have other options, that's a testament to it's quality.

I just hope Nintendo allows other companies to sell browsers on the eShop, I'd gladly pay $5 or $10 for something functional instead of getting stuck with something useless.


Posted by 
 on: 03/01/11, 16:20:20
@deathly_hallows

Oh I'm not denying that. I'm just saying NetFront isn't some obscure browser that most people don't use, which was rumplar's implication by citing the market share.

And again, I agree that Opera is a great browser, but performance is Nintendo's #1 concern for a browser in their handheld. By Nintendo dropping Opera and using NetFront, they didn't magically forget that priority, and sacrificing that performance just because it's cheaper doesn't seem very plausible given Nintendo's stance on the the browser.


Posted by 
 on: 03/01/11, 16:29:23  - Edited by 
 on: 03/01/11, 16:31:20
@casper884
Sacrificing quality and performance in order to save money sounds exactly like the way Nintendo operates. Just look at Wii's lack of HD, they didn't resell the same chipset from GCN because they thought gamers wanted graphics that were a generation behind, they sacrificed good graphical performance in order to increase their profit margins. I love Nintendo man, but they're cheap bastards.


Posted by 
 on: 03/01/11, 16:40:35  - Edited by 
 on: 03/01/11, 16:41:26
deathly_hallows said:
@casper884
Sacrificing quality and performance in order to save money sounds exactly like the way Nintendo operates. Just look at Wii's lack of HD, they didn't resell the same chipset from GCN because they thought gamers wanted graphics that were a generation behind, they sacrificed good graphical performance in order to increase their profit margins. I love Nintendo man, but they're cheap bastards.

But in every instance of them being cheap it has never conflicted with their priorities for their systems. They're not cheap just to be greedy.

For Wii, their priority was interface and motion controls. The lack of HD did not cause them to sacrifice interface and motion controls. The Wii uses fixed-function hardware, which is predictable and reliable. The lack of programmable shaders did not cause them to sacrifice stable performance.

If their priority for a handheld browser is performance, sacrificing performance is exactly the opposite of what they want, which would be the first time Nintendo would be sacrificing their priorities for more money. There is simply no precedent for it.

EDIT:

In a nutshelf:

-HD wasn't a priority for Wii so its sacrifice caused no conflicts with their priorities.
-Flexible programming wasn't a priority for Wii so its sacrifice caused no conflicts with their priorities.
-Performance IS a priority for their handheld browser, so its sacrifice would cause a direct conflict with their priorities.


Posted by 
 on: 03/01/11, 17:30:59  - Edited by 
 on: 03/01/11, 17:41:11
@Simbabbad

If its zoom function is like the ps3 browser, then I agree. However, if its zoom function is like the Wii's browser, which re-renders the text on-the-fly, then that would be great.

Also, I wonder if the browser will use the full 800x240 resolution, since it probably won't have 3D functionality. Or maybe it will have 3D features, which could be awesome if implemented well.


Posted by 
 on: 03/01/11, 17:45:44
@casper884

I would imagine the browser is on the bottom screen, otherwise you couldn't tap any links. (I say this without having ever used the browser on the DS)


Posted by 
 on: 03/01/11, 18:31:33
@Phalanx

Well from the 3 seconds of footage we've seen it uses both screens as one page. I suppose for better readability, we could scroll the text we want to read to the top screen.


Posted by 
 on: 03/01/11, 19:30:30  - Edited by 
 on: 03/01/11, 19:31:57
@casper884
My point is they cheaped out on a lot of features in order to make Wii smaller, more efficient, and less expensive for consumers, yet still make them money. The 3DS's main hook is the stereoscopic 3-D, and it seems like they went all out in providing a great 3-D screen and perfecting the depth-slider ect., but they seem to have no problem in skimping in other areas such as going with a cheaper/crappier browser in order to save a few bucks.


Posted by 
 on: 03/01/11, 19:59:13
@deathly_hallows

And making the Wii smaller, efficient, and less expensive were all priorities for them. Yes, it was profitable, but let's not pretend that the only reasons that those things were a priority was because of money. Acting on those priorities also directly benefits the consumer.

Good performance is a priority for their browser, so it's very unlikely to be something their going to skimp on. Just like they wouldn't skimp on making the Wii smaller, more efficient, and less expensive.


Posted by 
 on: 03/01/11, 20:23:14
casper884 said:
@rumplarFirst, let me say that no one here is denying the quality of Opera, it's a great browser, but that doesn't mean that NetFront will ALWAYS be inferior. If you believe that, then you're pretty biased.
Oh, I absolutely agree! There's no universal rule saying "Opera is better". But you need to understand that Netfront has always been known for... shall we say "shoddy" quality? Even Sony practically bashed the browser in public after it was released on the PS3. They clearly weren't happy with it, but I guess they weren't willing to pay more.

-Netfront is on over a billion devices and comes stock on millions of cell phones or other mobile devices. It's hardly 'nowhere to be seen'. Many people just don't realize the browser that they're using is NetFront.
What I'm saying is that it doesn't have a lot of actual users. And if you think the numbers from Netfront are impressive, you should see the kind of numbers these old WAP browsers are shipping in. Crappy as they are, they are everywhere. Or were, at least. So these numbers aren't really that interesting, really.

- Nintendo's work with Opera is the exact opposite of an 'afterthought'. Read the Iwata's Asks and grab a little insight into the development process of the browsers before making such claims. Nintendo's employees made daily visits for several months working on the browser, while most companies using NetFront have ACCESS devolop a browser for them independently.
I'm not saying that they didn't put any effort into it at all, but they didn't exactly make it an important part of the Wii experience. The fact that it had to be downloaded separately says a lot, really. So while they put some people on it and developed it actively, it was kind of an afterthought and not really a high priority in the end.

Anyway, my point about NetFront life was not to suggest that the 3DS browser will be like that, but that the PSP/PS3 browsers are hardly the standard for NetFront, and they have made some significant improvements. On top of that, Nintendo is sure to be involved with development, and performance will be a priority (like it was on the DSi), so I'm not expecting NetFront on the 3DS to be one of ACCESS' poorer efforts.
What I'm expecting is that Nintendo still won't put everything into the browser, and their chosen browser shows that. I mean, look at the latest Netfront browser, which, it appears, can't even reflow text.


Posted by 
 on: 03/01/11, 21:23:08  - Edited by 
 on: 03/01/11, 21:23:22
Well, again we really don't know anything about the browser on the 3DS. Just because it's from NetFront it doesn't mean it will be horrible. Since Nintendo is likely involved in its development, if they feel that ACCESS isn't doing a good job performance-wise, I'm sure that will be addressed. Nintendo wasn't initially satisfied with Opera's performance on Wii, but they worked with them until the results were satisfactory. This isn't the typical situation were a company ports over a stock browser to their system. Nintendo has a lot of weight in terms of the direction on the browser's development.

Of course, that isn't to say that the 3DS is guaranteed to perform well. The 3DS doesn't have infinite resources, so there will be some limitations imposed on the browser. Hopefully the developers have found the right balance to make it stable, efficient, and functional.


Posted by 
 on: 03/01/11, 22:15:46
casper884 said:
Just because it's from NetFront it doesn't mean it will be horrible.
True, it just means it will most likely be horrible since they've shown in the past the browsers they make for game consoles are almost comically bad.


Posted by 
 on: 03/02/11, 01:19:17
After watching some Youtube videos of their mobile browsers, they seem fine... so hopefully the 3DS browser will perform more like that and less like the PS3.


Posted by 
 on: 03/02/11, 01:38:38
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