This report by Mashables’ Paul Glazowski caught my attention whilst reading my feeds the other day. It’s called, ’Opera Mini’s Continued Success Rests on Smart Product Placement’ and describes the current success of Opera with their mini browser:
“It’s not a perfect, or even moderately good analogy, but I find myself thinking of Opera Mini as a tortoise to Safari Mobile’s hare. The latter is downright suave and spiffy and all that. Opera’s mobile browser, on the other hand, is moving steadily into relative ubiquity. Its rise seems deceptively understated, too.”
It’s easy to look at Opera in the browser market and see them struggling to compete with Mozilla Firefox, even though it has been responsible for so much innovation over the last decade.
You couldn’t help wondering, why wasn’t Opera doing more? What’s going on?
Well, it turns out Opera was one step in front, just as it always has been. This time though, they may be able to turn this into actual success.
Opera may have failed to make huge progress against Firefox, Internet Explorer and even Safari, but it has been making huge progress with what may end up being even more important – the mobile browser market.
Opera has huge influence in the mobile browsing industry, Glozowski gives some examples:
“The list of agreements Opera now holds with various mobile manufacturers and network operators is pretty extensive. I won’t treat you to the unabridged rundown, but suffice it to say that many, many millions (add another few manys in for good measure) of mobile phone users are being treated automatically to Opera Mini installs upon purchase of new devices. That, or the next gadget on their wishlist is sporting the software. Just this week the company announced a deal with O2 to increase its market share even further. It also has parties like Micromax, Swisscom, Debitel, Haier, and Ten by Orange in its repertoire. The number of mobile users that have downloaded the Mini browser by their own volition counts strong as well.”
That list should also include Sony, Nintendo with the Wii, Motorola, Samsung and UIQ. In fact estimates put Opera Mini usage at 50% of all mobile browsing, a near-Microsoft dominance of the market. It will face some competition from the Safari, but only on terms of features and performance as Opera is designed to run on almost every mobile phone available.
The irony of the whole situation is that Mozilla has effectively let the mobile browser market slip them by, although now they have stated their aim is to “redefine the mobile browsing experience” although their current progress at this point has involved trashing Opera:
“Q: Did Opera get a headstart in this area? They are on phones and the Nintendo Wii?
A: I’m not sure I care about the Wii as a platform. People were critical of us last year, saying Opera has sewn it all up. But they won the last market. They have three times as many people as us. You have Opera browsers on the phone, but who uses it?”
It will be interesting to see how this pans out, will Mozilla create a decent Opera competitor? What can it do about the impressive head start Opera has across the industry?
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