The fox is everywhere! Where is Opera?

With the release of Firefox 1.0 (congratulations on that one!), the Internet is buzzing with talk about the new browser, and people are hoping that it will topple Microsoft's browser monopoly. It receives a lot of press, both from the geek media, and from mainstream publications. But concerned voices from within the Opera community are asking where Opera is in all of this. Why isn't Opera being mentioned? Why isn't Opera Software out there with a major marketing push to let people know about Opera, too? Why is Opera left on the sideline?

The bad news is that Opera 7 is nearly two years old by now. What is the media supposed to report on?

"And in other news, the Opera browser is still at version 7…"

Not exactly enough to make a smashing headline. ("Opera seeing record losses" seems to be popular right now, though.)

The bottom line is that the release of Firefox 1.0 is a major milestone, and it came at the best possible time. US-CERT's recommendation to use non-IE browsers got major press coverage, and people started looking for alternatives. Firefox 1.0 is introduced, and with a major PR campaign to spread the word, "everyone" is talking about it. The major milestone, combined with increasing awareness around Internet Explorer's security problems, means that the timing is just perfect.

The good news is that this benefits Opera!

More people than ever before are made aware of the problems with Internet Explorer, and start looking for other browsers. When you see an article about the release of Firefox 1.0, you will often, if not usually, see that other alternatives are mentioned as well. It is obvious that different people have different needs, and while Firefox is a great browser in its own right, it is not necessarily the answer to everyone's needs. Firefox offers a basic browser which can then be added to with extensions. Opera, on the other hand, offers a complete Internet package. Rather than having to "build your own browser", so to speak, Opera offers the convenience of an integrated package, full of useful features.

The fact is that people now know that they have a choice, and many actually choose Opera. If they try Firefox and find that it doesn't really work for them, they may remember hearing about Opera too, and will try it out. In fact, in a Norwegian IT publication a while ago, a spokesperson for Opera explained that we saw increasing download numbers from opera.com.

What people also seem to forget is that Opera has already been in major publications around the world, such as BBC and CNN. It is not like Firefox is the first to be mentioned there. Just because Opera 7 isn't the latest news, and just because Firefox is getting coverage today, that doesn't mean that Opera hasn't had coverage before. And as I mentioned, when they mention Firefox, they usually mention Opera and Safari as well.

There's more good news. While Opera 7 is not exactly new, Opera 7.60 is on the way with many significant improvements, such as voice browsing, and a new "fit to width" feature which is useful for people with lower resolution screens. There are also plans for something which might have a serious impact in parts of the market, but the details on that will have to remain a secret for now.

Opera's user base is growing, and the fact that Firefox is now available as a stable release does not mean that Opera is going to disappear. Opera has been around for nearly a decade, and free alternatives have existed for all these years. While Firefox is what's hot today, we shouldn't forget that Opera has been around the world already, and there hasn't really been much to report lately. Still, Opera gets a "free ride" because of the timing of the Firefox 1.0 release.

The fox is everywhere, and so is Opera.

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19 thoughts on “The fox is everywhere! Where is Opera?

  1. I've been using Opera for two years. It is one fine piece of software engineering. Just got my pastor to start using it too. He really likes the M2 mail client.

    Secret? Hmmm, now you have my interest really peaked. RSS related maybe? Blogging tool?

  2. Well, whatever attention Opera gets or has gotten has not nearly paid off in overall use …. Firefox use is growing rapidly. Meanwhile, Opera remains a distant 3rd … sounds like you're happy getting the bronze medal … hmmm … ???

    Firefox is your competitor, not your friend! Wake up!

  3. Patience… Rome wasn't built in a day 😉

    Let's be realistic. Opera 7 is nearly two years old by now. But good things are coming. Wait and see…

  4. Good things are already here, too. And Opera could make a very convincing case for its superiority and attractiveness based on its current arrangement.

    🙂

    Glad to know money is being thrown towards marketing …. I hope the marketing team is not afraid to be unashamed at promoting Opera in the face of Firefox hype, however, and doesn't act as though Firefox is a chummy pal of theirs.

  5. I have all three browsers mentioned here on my system. Opera and IE get the major portion of my traffic, depending on which sites I'm visiting. Firefox seems to work similar to IE in most respects, but it doesn't handle some sites that have sound too well. It's a problem I've noted about Netscape browsers in general, and Firefox isn't that much different from its Netscape cousin.

    Opera handles most sites well enough, with certain notable exceptions. I visit a message board on a Handyman site frequently, and it "used to" work quite well in Opera. But, they had an upgrade of their boards– ok, an outright replacement of their entire website– and several features are IE specific these days. I can still visit in Opera, but if I expect to post to the boards I'd better be using IE. That's not the fault of the browsers, though. It's bad code writing on the part of the people designing the website.

  6. The more I wander this crazy virt-world the more I realize that there is definitely a place for all the best browsers, of which Opera is certainly among that elite three. I've found Firefox just seems to lend itself to certain sites, whereas I've used Opera predominantly for accessing the various elements of the Opera community.

    Personally I feel this is Opera's strongest suit, it's edge. Technically there isn't anything negative that I can say about Opera. There are no glaring flaws, (certainly not the case with IE, which must list, among it's other drawbacks, the ability to essentially wreck a computer through it's security vulnerabilities), but what there is in evidence here is a group of people united in their use of this fine ap. While we don't all talk about Opera, we're all talking with it, and that's saying something that none of the other browsers can truly say.

  7. I just had a talk with a friend who is developing WebApps, and he told me that Opera doesn't work with many Apps that do work in Gecko browsers. I feel that if Opera is going to have a foot in the corporate market, the browser needs MUCH better DHTML. 7 was a huge leap forward in that regard, but not much has happened since then (apart from the much needed speed increases with each release, notably 7.20). Gmail is symptomatic for Opera's DHTML problems, and while the coders are hacking to get gmail to work since it's a high-profile site/app, lots of other DHTML apps continue to remain unsupported, because Opera's DHTML support just isn't as good as Gecko's, unfortunately.

    BTW: I love Opera, and have used it almost exclusively daily since 3.62; I'm just worried about the future of Opera on Desktops.

    Friedrich

  8. hmmm, they may be friends , but… have you ever taught someone a new game, and they then go on to thrash you at it??? dont let that happen !! its ok if you dont want to be 'famous' , but…

  9. Opera is in a losing battle. Why? Because opera costs money and the other browers don't. Many people will gladly suffer through a browser that is a little less capable than opera simple because they don't have to pay anything for it. The reality is that opera is only a little better than what is out there yet you have to pay to get it.

    People don't want to hear about opera anymore because they don't want to be bothered with something you have to pay for when there is a similar browser that is absolutely FREE. As soon as I mention that opera has ads and that you have to pay for it people brush me off and say the words firefox or mozilla.

    I use opera now, but I am strongly considering making the jump to the FREE broswers.

  10. The argument that most users will choose free over paid software is moot. If it was true, Linux would have thrashed Windows by now. It is only starting to happen (to some degree) now since Linux is getting easier to use and has most neccessary applications for home users.

    Firefox is similar to Opera, but doesn't cover the exact same market. Many users will rather pay a small fee and be done with it rather than having to "fight the software" to make it do what they want. My father is a good example. He is close to 50 years old and has been using computers since punchcards were 'it' and there were no home computers. He has had his fair share of making the software work as opposed to working with the software. With FireFox you have to find and then install extensions, which is something he doesn't want to be bothered with.

    There's also the point that Opera is also free of charge as long as you donate a small part of your screen to ads. The benefit is as above that Opera offers a complete package 'out of the box' with no other downsides than the ads.

    As to Opera fighting a loosing battle, that is ridiculous. The web is open, and despite Microsofts efforts, will continue to be open, in large part thanks to the Mozilla and Opera teams. If you wish you may of course switch to another browser, that is your choice. Myself, I will continue enjoying my included mouse gestures, mail, rss and irc client, bookmarks with nicknames, notes, sidebar, searchable history, sessions with continuation of last session, form auto-completion, search engine shortcuts, skins updated without restart, easy management of keyboard shortcuts, extreme customization possibilities, voice support (!!), quick enabling/disabling of plugins/popup block/javascript/flash/java/cookies/browser ID and more which I probably forgot.

    Granted, FireFox has some of these included and some can be added with extensions, but you DO have to add most yourself, and FireFox is already a larger download than Opera with only basic features. Also, Opera is very often first with new features with FireFox extensions coming a while after, so if you like me want the great stuff first, you go Opera.

  11. For the record Opera has never been free, and our competitors have always (for practical purposes) been free. Before 5.0 there were no ad-sponsored version either, you had to pay to use Opera. This has not stopped us from getting where we are now.

    The screen estate used by the ad banner is a disadvantage with using Opera, but I would claim our advantages outweights this disadvantage.

  12. "Opera is in a losing battle. Why? Because opera costs money and the other browers don't."

    Opera has always been a commercial product, and there have always been free alternatives.

    People have been predicting Opera's death for nearly ten years. They have been wrong so far. In fact, Opera today has more users than ever, and revenues are growing rapidly.

    "People don't want to hear about opera anymore because they don't want to be bothered with something you have to pay for when there is a similar browser that is absolutely FREE."

    People do want to hear about Opera, especially for mobile phones, where Opera has been picked as being strategically important for certain mobile operators to secure revenue and get more customers.

    Also, Firefox is not similar to Opera at all. The Mozilla suite, on the other hand, is. In a way. On the other hand, I would personally have to say that neither Firefox nor Mozilla measure up to Opera. They are nice programs, but have problems that give Opera the edge. Or Opera has advantages that they cannot counter.

  13. No doubt this will either bring up stuff you don't know or can't talk about but…

    Opera bundles with some mobile phones. I'm assuming this means a per unit fee is paid by the hardware maker in licencing costs.

    So thats almost a captive and transparent market with the fantastic product that Opera is providing there (accepting that it will maintain it in the faceo f the Minime… I mean Minimo 'charge').

    Given that, if that market can be grown enough, if the revenue from it can be pushed enough too, what would the chances be of that subsidising the desktop market – for non-commercial use.

    If more people were persuaded to use it and seriously, the largest complaint or reason against it I see now is "It's not free!" and no amount of saying you don't need to pay for it will go against that argument when ads are mentioned.

    If Opera can provide sustainable income from licencing for embedded appliances and commercials then (big huge gigantic if) then a fully free non-comm desktop would probably see growth take off. And if more people are using Opera on the desktop, when they go to buy their mobile phone they will want one that comes with it because Opera is so damn good!

    Pie in the sky, fantasy land, not going to happen but it'd be one hell of a kick start to Opera's market share. (Of course it has a very non-cosy feel of 'betting the farm' to it)

  14. I personally would love to see Opera for PC as a free (as in beer) program, and I know that others feel the same way. But only time will tell if this is possible or not.

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