Ina Fried

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Quirky Mobile Browser Dolphin Passes 10 Million Users

While the vast majority of people browsing the Web on their smartphones do so with the software built into their devices, a growing number of people are considering alternatives.

The list of would-be competitors includes such well-known browser names as Mozilla and Opera, and also mobile-only upstarts, including a touch-centric browser called Dolphin.

That browser, which focuses on using gestures to make it easy to get to favorite Web sites, began life on Android in 2009 and is now also available for the iPhone and iPad. MoboTap, the San Francisco start-up behind Dolphin, plans to announce later on Tuesday that it has passed the 10 million user mark, and that it is ready with a new version of its iOS product.

Taking on the browser that ships by default might seem like a fool’s errand, but MoboTap is convinced otherwise, and has managed to raise more than $10 million from investors including Sequoia and Matrix.

Edith Yeung, MoboTap’s head of marketing, said that even some of her friends raise their eyebrows when she says what her company does. However, Yeung said, there remains an opportunity for a browser that is solely focused on being easy to use on a mobile device.

Dolphin’s unique features include the ability to open favorite Web pages with a custom gesture, and “Webzine,” a Flipboard-like view for reading articles.

The risk, of course, is that the built-in browsers will get easier to use as well, erasing any advantages offered up by Dolphin and other browsers. With iOS 5, for example, Apple added new reading views and the ability to save desktop pages for later viewing.

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