29 Comments

Summary:

Economic malaise aside, consumers increasingly want to surf the Net on phones, according to Jon S. von Tetzchner, CEO of the Opera Software. “There is a mega-trend of increased Internet usage,” he told me over breakfast this morning, “and we are in the middle of it, regardless of the economic downturn.”

vontetzchnerBrowser market share data published earlier this month by Net Applications regarding Opera Software’s desktop browser is “plain wrong,” Jon S. von Tetzchner, CEO of the software company, told me today. He was responding to questions about the report’s conclusion, that Opera’s desktop browser market share was stagnating in the face of more competition from not only Mozilla Firefox and Microsoft’s Internet Explorer but Apple’s Safari and Google’s Chrome. It did seem like an awfully sharp reversal for a company that has not only thrived as an independent but has developed a cult following, as I noted in an article for Business 2.0 back in 2005.

Market Share

“Net Applications said that we had no growth in 2008,” von Tetzchner went on, “but internally we saw a 67 percent increase in the number of desktop users and a significant rise in revenues.” He said Opera has 35 million active users, which translates into between “2 and 3 percent” market share when it comes to desktop browsers. So why the disparity? “Much of our growth is in emerging markets like India, Indonesia and Russia — and that doesn’t show up in stats,” he explained. “Net Applications is looking at data that is mostly in the U.S. and parts of Western Europe.”

He claimed to see similar misreporting in the mobile browser market share as well (according to von Tetzchner, the Opera Mini is the most popular mobile browser). But it’s the way people have begun to frame all mobile browser conversations around smartphones that really perplexes him. What many fail to remember, he pointed out, is that more than 85 percent of the world’s phones are not “smartphones.”

Smart or not, there are billions of phones out there. With only 21 million active Opera Mini browser users — and more traditional WAP browser competitors like Open Wave, Access and Telica falling off the cliff — von Tetzchner thinks there is plenty of room for Opera to grow. “There is a mega-trend of increased Internet usage and we are in the middle of it, regardless of the economic downturn.”

I’m glad he’s feeling confident, because his company has some serious challenges ahead of it: It’s competing with the same companies it counts among its business partners, such as Google and Nokia. One misstep and Opera could be locked out of much-needed revenues.

The iPhone Effect

As for that mega-trend of increased Internet usage von Tetzchner talked about, he credits the iPhone. “What the iPhone did was make people want a full browser for their phones, and we have that,” von Tetzchner said. At the same time, he called the iPhone “an interesting platform but not a very large platform. So we are going for other market segments.” It could be sour grapes — Apple isn’t, after all, allowing Opera to be sold on the iPhone. Then again, I personally think the iPhone has more of an “influence” on the direction of the mobile industry than most mobile providers would like to admit.

Unsurprisingly, von Tetzchner is not a fan of app stores, believing they are yet another attempt to fragment the market. “We are seeing a lot of widget implementations that are not standardized and don’t work together,” he said. He thinks that eventually all these widgets will converge to a common standard, allowing, say, iPhone apps work on Android and Android on Windows Mobile, etc.

I’m not so sure the end user actually gives a damn if an app works on one platform and not on another. Once you are locked into a two-year contract with your phone, what are the odds that you are switching to another one? Plus these apps are so cheap that many of us would simply download them again anyway. The problem is for the application writers, who have to develop their apps for many different platforms. For von Tetzchner that alone is a reason to believe that standards-based mobile widgets (apps) will eventually happen.

You’re subscribed! If you like, you can update your settings

  1. Nick Caldwell Monday, March 2, 2009

    “We are seeing a lot of widget implementations that are not standardized and don’t work together”

    Two thoughts:

    1) who cares? iPhone app developers are making pretty good money by focusing on one platform!
    2) widgets? I’d like to see the Omnifocus developers faces when they hear such a feature-rich application get called a freaking “widget”!

    Seriously, the iPhone application market is dominating because it’s relatively easy to create sophisticated applications using a development environment that wasn’t designed by sadists. That’s not a trivial advantage.

  2. I will go the other way…Opera has lots of problems with websites. Lots of sites are not supported by this browser. We have seen much problem using Linux also …there is long way to go for Opera to come back into the market of browsers.

    Google Chrome is becoming quite popular with internet users.

  3. Nick Caldwell Monday, March 2, 2009

    Just to switch gears: @sdkrdk – Opera’s rendering engine is one of the most standards compliant around. If a site built by muppets to only work in Internet Explorer fails in Opera, then that’s not Opera’s fault. Thankfully, web designers are far more educated about web standards and best practices and relatively few sites will break outright in Opera.

  4. Arup Roy Chowdhury Ph.D Tuesday, March 3, 2009

    Been an Opera user for 10 years, it remains the browser with best overall performance including an usable interface, I use it for mail as well. I have tried out all the alternatives including Seamonkey and nothing comes close to Opera.

  5. @Nick-Well, I will agree with you but there are many popular sites that fail in Opera. We used to work in this browser but we had to leave it when we used Ubuntu.

    I will talk to one of my friends who will be able to furnish more details over this issue. Thanks for your comments though.

  6. Opera Mini usage has been going up my AT LEAST 10% each month, and went up 18% alone, just last month. http://www.opera.com/smw. So they’re definitely exploding worldwide in the mobile space, and are the dominant mobile browser.

  7. PerfectMOney Tuesday, March 3, 2009

    I don’t think browser really “wars”, I believe.many people already install more then one browser in there system,I myself having 4 browser active and non of them blocking and conflict each system,although all time I use mozila.I m not basically loyal to it. my opera is my secondary update and the other 2 is explorer and safari

  8. Nick Caldwell Tuesday, March 3, 2009

    “We used to work in this browser but we had to leave it when we used Ubuntu.”

    I don’t really get what the difference the operating system would make, provided the browser’s rendering engine was the same on each platform (and I believe it is in Opera’s case).

  9. True…the other browser Mozilla worked quite okay in Ubuntu.

  10. TPile » Blog Archive » Tuesday Morning Links - Tuesday, March 3, 2009

    [...] view of pirate radio bbc.co.uk ICANN supremo to bail at the end of the year theregister.co.uk Browser Wars: Opera Says It s Not Down or Out gigaom.com read [...]

  11. Well said , I use opera on my WinMo.
    Opera mini is by far the fastest browser on mobile phones I have seen ( including the iPhone).

  12. @Nick Caldwell:

    … If a site built by muppets to only work in Internet Explorer fails in Opera, then that’s not Opera’s fault. …

    I think sometimes it is Opera’s fault which can not render a full standard compliant page correctly. As an example browse this url with FF, IE or Google Chrome: http://arakara.gozir.com/weblog/ (UTF-8 / Persian text) , check it for CSS/XHTML standard compliance, then browse it with Opera (I have Opera 9.63 installed, in Persian script letters of a word should be joint together and Opera shows them disjoint when you set a letter-spacing:1px for a paragraph, for example it displays ویرایش as و ی ر ا ی ش in this case), it is the only browser which does not support «letter-spacing» for Arabic/Persian languages and renders characters incorrectly. I have already reported this bug using Opera bug report feature more than one time one or two years ago and it is not fixed yet.

  13. Opera Sigue su Crecimiento | POWERPYMES Tuesday, March 3, 2009

    [...] que el crecimiento de Opera se había detenido por lo que su CEO, Jon S. von Tetzchner dio una entrevista a Om Malik sobre lo que ha pasado con una de las compañías que mas admiro y en donde explica que han tenido [...]

  14. StatCounterJen Tuesday, March 3, 2009

    Hi folks,

    StatCounter has just released its new Global Stats Research tool – the service allows you to monitor market share data for mobile browsers, mobile operating systems and mobile search – thought it might be of interest!

    http://gs.statcounter.com/

    Also, our research shows that the iPhone now has 24% of the global browser market followed by Opera with 22%. Nokia has 18% followed by Apple’s iPod Touch with 14%. BlackBerry has 5.8% of the global mobile browser market and Sony PSP 3.4%.

    Today’s press release is available here:
    http://gs.statcounter.com/press/iphone-takes-global-lead-in-mobile-browser-wars-statcounter-research/

    All the best!!

  15. Flock Says It Hasn’t Switched to Google Chrome From Firefox Tuesday, March 3, 2009

    [...] But why would Flock be interested in Chrome? My wild guess: the mobile browser market. WebKit (and thus Chrome) have a clear path to netbooks and mobiles over Mozilla. WebKit is dominating the mobile web market, as shown by market share data released by Net Applications recently. Mozilla’s mobile offerings are slow in coming. At the same time, there is a lot of demand for full-blown mobile browsers, a point asserted by Jon S. von Tetzchner, CEO of the Opera Software in an interview with me yesterday. [...]

  16. Wai Yip Tung Tuesday, March 3, 2009

    Being a loyal Opera user I can’t help but concern about the future of Opera. When Firefox burst into fame a couple of year ago, I didn’t see Opera take advantage to aggressively market itself as another alternative to the IE6 monoploy. When Safari’s popularity is increasing due to Apple’s products, Opera is dropping off from the number 3 spot. Now when people talk about the browser market share, Opera is often went off the radar screen completely. Now they are pinning the hope on Opera mini. But I see few effort to turn around their desktop market share.

  17. Tuesday Morning Links – | remove the labels | Gadgets and Life Tuesday, March 3, 2009

    [...] view of pirate radio bbc.co.uk ICANN supremo to bail at the end of the year theregister.co.uk Browser Wars: Opera Says It s Not Down or Out gigaom.com read [...]

  18. sdkrdk:

    # Opera has lots of problems with websites.
    # Lots of sites are not supported by this
    # browser.

    Actually, Opera does support most of those sites. You will find that it’s the site that’s blocking Opera, even without telling you about it. This is caused by buggy browser sniffing scripts written by amateurs.

    Opera was built from the ground up to handle badly coded sites.

    # there is long way to go for Opera to come
    # back into the market of browsers

    It’s already there, and seeing record growth and revenues in all markets.

  19. StatCounterJen:

    # our research shows that the iPhone now
    # has 24% of the global browser market

    Nonsense. At best your stats are US-only. The iPhone only has a high market share in the US. In the rest of the world, it doesn’t.

  20. sdkrdk:

    # Opera has lots of problems with websites.
    # Lots of sites are not supported by this
    # browser.

    Actually, Opera does support most of those sites. You will find that it’s the site that’s blocking Opera, even without telling you about it. This is caused by buggy browser sniffing scripts written by amateurs.

    Opera was built from the ground up to handle badly coded sites.

    # there is long way to go for Opera to come
    # back into the market of browsers

    It’s already there, and seeing record growth and revenues in all markets.

    ========================================================================

    StatCounterJen:

    # our research shows that the iPhone now
    # has 24% of the global browser market

    Nonsense. At best your stats are US-only. The iPhone only has a high market share in the US. In the rest of the world, it doesn’t.

    ========================================================================

    Wai Yip Tung:

    # Being a loyal Opera user I can’t help but concern
    # about the future of Opera. When Firefox burst
    # into fame a couple of year ago, I didn’t see
    # Opera take advantage to aggressively market
    # itself as another alternative to the IE6 monoploy.
    # When Safari’s popularity is increasing due to
    # Apple’s products, Opera is dropping off from the number 3 spot.”

    Nonsense. Opera has doubled its user base in two years, and keeps growing. Last quarter they set a record with all-time high revenues and profits (as they did the previous quarters as well).

    # Now they are pinning the hope on Opera mini.
    # But I see few effort to turn around their
    # desktop market share.

    Did you even pay attention? Opera does NOT have the low market share NetApps is claiming. They are a bunch of liars:

    http://my.opera.com/haavard/blog/index.dml/tag/net%20applications

    And Opera is NOT struggling. Desktop revenues increased more than 100% last quarter!

  21. Google Chrome Makes Friends With Real Thursday, March 5, 2009

    [...] from the new Safari 4.0, which is not only fast but is available on both Macs and PCs. (Related: Browser wars: Opera Says It’s Not Down or Out.) [...]

  22. Here is Opera’s market share tracked over the past 6 months: http://www.statowl.com/web_browser_market_share.php

  23. I think Opera developers can’t be able to see the difference between spacing or no spacing. BTW Arabic letters are kinda funny, you know? They bend over sometimes. This is fun!

  24. Microsoft Releases IE 8 to Combat Rival Browsers Wednesday, March 18, 2009

    [...] is a tactical acknowledgment by Redmond, Wash.-based software giant that it’s locked in a bitter battle for market share with Mozilla’s Firefox, Opera, Google’s Chrome and Apple’s Safari [...]

  25. Microsoft Releases IE 8 to Combat Rival Browsers | Online Buissnes Thursday, March 19, 2009

    [...] is a tactical acknowledgment by Redmond, Wash.-based software giant that it’s locked in a bitter battle for market share with Mozilla’s Firefox, Opera, Google’s Chrome and Apple’s Safari [...]

  26. Opera About to Sing with U.S. Carriers Friday, March 20, 2009

    [...] Mini to show a large jump in browser marketshare, which is good for Opera as a whole. Recently, Net Applications reported no growth for Opera, which the company refutes. It all depends on how you measure the data, to some degree. One thing you can’t deny: with [...]

  27. Mr.Bindass » Blog Archive » Microsoft Releases IE 8 Sunday, March 29, 2009

    [...] is a tactical acknowledgment by Redmond, Wash.-based software giant that it’s locked in a bitter battle for market share with Mozilla’s Firefox, Opera, Google’s Chrome and Apple’s Safari [...]

  28. So Opera Does Have a Carrier Deal After All Wednesday, April 1, 2009

    [...] 14th, including the the Samsung Slash, the Arc, Shuttle and Super Slice. Looks like Om is right: Opera isn’t down or out just yet when it comes to mobile browsing. [...]

  29. اگهی رایگان تبلیغات رایگان نیازمندیها Monday, March 1, 2010

    True…the other browser Mozilla worked quite okay in Ubuntu.

Comments have been disabled for this post