Martinâ€™s post about upcoming browser releases was something I had also been thinking about.
I canâ€™t see Internet Explorer gaining any significant market share any time soon, but I can see, as Martin said, a solid, secure release stabilizing the downward trend somewhat.
I have done my own extensive research on the topic of mainstream consumer browser adoption (also known as having a conversation with my girlfriend) and discovered that browser she preferred most of all was Opera.
Now my gf didnâ€™t even know what Firefox was and she couldnâ€™t care less what she used to surf the net. However she was sick of using Internet Explorer as it kept crashing on her. I told her to download Opera and give it a try, which she did.
She instantly loved it largely because of itâ€™s simplicity and Speed Dial. Yep, Iâ€™m pretty sure that that one feature is worth more to her then every other amazing feature any other browser could think of. She also finds the Wand passwords really handy as well.
From this I think that yes, Opera really does have potential to increase itâ€™s market shareâ€¦ but only if it can somehow increase awareness. Most consumers donâ€™t need a browser that is infinitely customizable like Firefox, they simply need one that is fast, safe and easy to use. This is what IE should be, but instead itâ€™s Opera which provides it.
Update: The browser landscape has changed significantly ever since the article was published here on the site. Microsoft managed to stabilize Internet Explorer's downward trend marketing-wise with new versions, especially IE9 and IE10. Google launched the Chrome web browser which is now the second most used browser in the world, Firefox declined somewhat but is still a force that plays a major role on the Internet, and Opera, well, it stagnated on the desktop and did not manage to catch market share.