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Opera Software today is trumpeting its new technology offering called Opera Unite that uses the Opera browser to turn your PC into a server that can host photos, files, music, and even act as a Facebook-style wall for exchanging notes and chats. The idea is similar to services such as FolderShare that allow you to share the contents of your PC with another computer, only this time Opera is doing it via the browser instead of a separate client. It works on Windows, Linux and Mac machines, and will likely work with Opera Mini and Opera Mobile at a later date.
Opera users can access Opera Unite through a drop-down menu and then log into their Opera account. From there, they can let the browser know which files to share and what privacy settings to use. The program also offers up a URL that friends and family who don’t use Opera can paste into their browsers to see the shared files. It’s handy, but for it to work, the browser needs to be on and the computer has to be awake. That limits the sharing somewhat, much like it did on previous efforts with this type of file sharing.
To make this new, Opera takes the idea of a browser-based web server and is trying to create a platform for developers to build more applications using that functionality. The initial six apps are file sharing, music, photo sharing, notes, hosting a web page, and a private chat room to share among all your friends. It’s good that Opera has built in the capability to share files and services with non-Opera users since over at ZDNet, Larry Dignan says that at max only 2 percent of the web browsing population is using Opera.
And that will be Opera’s biggest challenge — attracting developers to come up with cool applications on this service when they could be building for the iPhone, the Pre, Android or any of the other platforms out there. Opera Unite shows how cool interactivity on the web can be (and by shoving it into the browser, Opera should be able to take it mobile on a variety of devices), but it’s just another platform trying to be a king in a world where developers are now the kingmakers.