I just attended a web conference led by Opera where the company showed off the new Opera Unite platform. Essentially, Unite turns the Opera browser into both a client and a server. Here are the highlights from Opera’s perspective:
- Easy file sharing that you control without a third party. Opera Unite will create a direct URL for any files you share from your computer. You can offer that URL to friends for file or folder sharing.
- Run a web server that you can share or host from your computer.
- Playback media stored on your computer from any browser on a remote computer.
- Photo sharing creates an online image gallery from your computer.
- Direct chat through “The Lounge” feature which provides a peer-to-peer chat system.
- Developers can create apps which you can then install within Unite. The apps and their data run on your home computer, but can be accessed from any browser. Perhaps this too will fit into the quest for my “personal cloud”? I want to run my apps locally and access them remotely, without the need for a third party.
There’s quite a few exciting possibilities here, so again, I want to see the Opera presentation. In the meantime, you can download and use the Opera Unite preview for Windows, Mac or Linux today with Opera 10.
My initial takeaway is that Opera has made it easy for anyone to run a web server with fun and useful features. It reminds me of the same approach offered by PogoPlug: power users can run their own server boxes, but common folks generally can’t or don’t. The sharing services appear comparable to many others in this space, so the real meat could be in third-party apps, since Unite is also a platform. Unfortunately, I can’t see hordes of developers latch on just yet. There’s simply too much “low-hanging fruit” in terms of developing apps for the mobile space right now.
I did ask if Opera Unite would be supported on mobile phone browsers like Opera Mobile, Opera Mini, WebKit (iPhone, Android, WebOS) and Internet Explorer (Windows Mobile). No such luck just yet, but Opera is definitely looking at it in the future.