Opera has announced Sponsored Web Pass, a feature that allows wireless carriers to easily create an advertisement-supported program that provides free mobile data for a limited period of time if the user accepts to watch or otherwise engage with an advertisement. This is an interesting idea for the casual mobile data user who does not want to pay for a full-on plan. Depending of your country and current carrier option, an ad-supported mobile data option could be enticing. Sure, nobody wants to watch ads, but the web has pretty much proven that we tolerate ads just fine if they mean that content is free.
Of course, this is completely subject to the wireless carrier’s interest in having such a thing on their network, but if they do, Opera makes the whole thing easier to setup. You have probably seen something similar with free WiFi, and I’m not sure how successful this advertising model is, but since it is still around, I’ll wager that it works well enough.
From a user perspective, it is hard to judge how good the offer is until we can see an actual offer. I personally wouldn’t mind watching an ad to get one hour or more of free mobile internet. In many places where I travel, that would be very convenient. However, I may not want to do that if I only get minutes of free data. Equally, this does not seem very enticing if I have to interact too much with the ad.
For Opera, this could be a great way to give wireless carriers and users a new incentive to use their browser. although it is very decent, the browser competition is extremely difficult, especially when most handsets come preloaded with one. Let’s wait and see when/where carriers deploy this. I think that most of our readers already have a data plan, but what do you think of the idea?