Today Opera is challenging Apple directly in building an Opera browser iPhone app they they claim is better and faster than Safari.
Their claim that Opera is shown by a video produced by them comparing the two browsers on an iPhone 3G using the EDGE 2G network. They claim that Opera can load 5 pages while Safari loads one.
This has been rumoured to be coming for some time and today is the day. Opera is not being very shy about the submission either. They have made a special page that tracks the time since they submitted to Apple. They have even made a contest around it, giving an iPhone 3G to whoever can guess the time that Apple takes to approve it.
That is a big assumption. Apple is known to be fickle with app approvals, especially when apps have competing functionality to the iPhone's core functions and apps. There is a chance that it won't get approved.
What ever happens though, there are going to be implications for Apple. If they don't approve it they risk angering current and future customers for not letting them have a choice on how to use their phone. If they do approve it, they will lose search revenues and it will set a precident for others to challenge Apple in public on acceptance (or non-acceptance) of their competing apps.
This one could turn out to be a big and very public decision for Apple. They already decided for customers that adult and "sexy" content was not allowed your iPhone (they removed 5000 apps from their app store recently). Next if they decide that people are not allowed to choose the browser, it will be a step in the wrong direction. We will be wondering "what else will Apple NOT allow me from doing on MY phone that I paid $600 bucks for". For some, it very well could be an easy decision to not buy an iPhone, iPad or even any Apple products in the future.
We guess that it will be approved by Apple and allowed in the iPhone App Store. The chance of a mass exodus of present and future customers as well as possible damage to their brand image is not worth the risk.