Opera, makers of mobile web browsers popular on those platforms that don't yet have a WebKit browser (ouch, but yeah) has announced that they're going to show off a version of their Opera Mini proxy browser at Mobile World Congress (MWC) to partners and press.
I'm not a huge fan of proxy browsers in general -- where web data is rendered on Opera's servers, compressed, and then sent down to your phone. They remind me of those old "dial-up internet accelerators" that just cached everything locally. As broadband grew, the need for them evaporated. They also break secure connections, since they're doing the actual web calls on their server, so things like online banking become an issue for the paranoid.
Opera makes a good point, however -- for people in countries where data isn't "unlimited" but paid-per-megabyte, or for people roaming in other countries, proxy and compression can be a big money saver.
In general, while Opera has been responsible for a lot of innovation in the web space (like tabbed browsing) they haven't succeeded on the desktop the way Firefox has. Smartphones have been a different story, however, especially on BlackBerry and Windows Phones where the built-in browsing experience has been crippled for years and Opera Mini and the full on Opera Mobile have been alternatives of choice. With IE6 Mobile and RIM's purchase of a WebKit browser, that might be changing, and that could be why Opera is looking to link itself with the massive hype-pipe that is the iPhone.
For now, our own Dieter Bohn and Phil Nickinson will be on the ground at MWC and will bring us back their impressions of Opera Mini for iPhone.
[Thanks Christian for the tip!]