Internet Explorer 7, 8, and now 9; Firefox 4.0, and Chrome 10 and 11 (coming soon); everybody knows the big browsers out there. However, a fourth browser exists, but it is not Safari, as Safari is made for Apple users mostly; it is Opera, its current version is 11.01, and it has things going for it that the others do not have. For example, Opera is still the most popular web browser used for mobile access, but it may soon lose the crown Chrome, courtesy of Android. Its share of the browser is less than 2 percent worldwide. However, in some countries, it is still number one on the desktop, but not many though, as Firefox has driven it out everywhere. Can Opera survive?
The Mobile Desktop
Opera is still the runaway favorite for the mobile browser. It controls fully 21 percent of the mobile market with iPhone a close second at 19 percent. Outside of the US, it is a different story, though. In Africa, Opera Mobile is the favorite by 67 percent, in Asia it holds 41 percent, so how is it possible that Opera has won so big in the mobile market, but not so much on the desktop?
For many years, Opera has been losing ground on the desktop alongside Microsoft’s IE because both are battling Mozilla for dominance, and if you add Chrome to the mix. Opera fall from sight. Opera was the only real game in town when it came to mobile browsing because of its association with Nokia and Symbian, and it is still the world leader with 30 percent of the mobile OS market share with Android, but iOS coming up fast.
During those days,Opera controlled a far greater percentage of the mobile browser space as there was few to choose. The coming of the iPhone, and then Android, has changed all of that but they are still number one. This is due, in part to the fact that it has focused on little else for years. However, Opera has not completely ignored the desktop version. There was some media attention over the initial announcement of version 11 but this faded, as the project took longer to implement. It is still a great browser, though.
The Other Guy
Opera has very tight cloud integration and has had for some time with MyOpera, a service that allows easy blog set up, offers user support groups, and personal web sites with pre-configured tools available. The Opera side bar design is desirable enough to rate several imitations on the Mozilla Add-on’s site for Firefox, although a bit of a learning curve to the browser makes it seem that it is for techie’s only. This is much changed with the new version.
The built-in email client and note taking application are worth considering. The email client requires a bit of set up, but works well for consolidating email from several online accounts. The notes application is useful enough, and notes are stored locally; a cloud back up service is included and easy to setup. Perhaps, Opera will be making some significant moves over the next year with tablets exploding. The browser is uniquely set up for taking advantage of Web based app’s but has the poorest support for current sites. If this could be changed, Opera could have a fighting chance. Unfortunately, Microsoft’s deal with Nokia may further limit exposure for Opera Mobile and threaten the company’s future survival.
About the Author: Jon T. Norwood is a managing partner at High Speed Internet, a site dedicated to providing information on Mobile Broadband News. Jon can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.