The desktop version makes up a significant amount of Opera's income, and it's part of Opera's slogan – "the best Internet experience on any device". While US browser stats may mislead you into thinking that Opera is in trouble, Opera actually has from 5-10% in certain parts of the world, and up to 20% in some countries. Opera's user base is actually growing! A year ago Opera had 20 million desktop users. Now there are more than 35 million users. Last quarter, desktop revenue was up more than 100% as well.
And while one might think that Microsoft, Google and other giants are going to simply crush Opera, and that more competition will get Opera in trouble, history shows otherwise. As a matter of fact, more competition means more focus on browsers, which has historically shown to benefit Opera.
Now to address his arguments in more detail.
its desktop browser continually fails to attract significant market share.
As readers of this blog should know by now, not only is browser market share impossible to measure in reality, but browser statistics companies have frequently been caught red-handed manipulating their own statistics. But if we were to play along for a moment and pretend that browser share was actually possible to measure, we will quickly notice that the picture is not as simple as Lanxon thinks. Look at Europe, where various stats (that are not Net Applications) often show Opera with a 5-10% market share, even up to 20% in certain countries! US stats providers may show Opera with different and yet low market share numbers, but Opera does have a far higher penetration rate in other parts of the world, and there are more than 35 million Opera desktop users around the world by now.
And if we forget about market share for a moment, the desktop product makes up more than 1/5 of Opera's total revenues. That is a significant portion of our revenues, and they grew by more than 100% in Q4 2008 compared to Q4 2007!
Opera blames Microsoft, citing the anti-competitive nature of tying Internet Explorer to Windows, which is complete nonsense since Firefox is massively popular despite Microsoft's dominant position.
A single anomaly outside the "normal" market ecosystem does not invalidate Opera's claims, which are supported by both Mozilla and Google. Indeed, the EC has come to the same conclusion: Microsoft has broken the law. Does Mr. Lanxon know something no one else knows, since he can claim that the findings of both Opera, Mozilla, Google and the EC are "complete nonsense"?
Mozilla themselves have also clearly explained how Firefox's success does not indicate a healthy market, and how it does not mean that Microsoft did not break the law.
It's an interesting point, but the argument ultimately fails for several reasons.
Secondly, why is Mr. Lanxon assuming that Opera is out of the race? As a tech journalist, surely he should be aware of Opera's new JS engine, Carakan, which is built from the ground up with pure performance in mind, and which should at least be able to catch up with the rest of the browsers that participate in the benchmark race?
But it's a futile effort, and I think with Google, Mozilla, Apple and Microsoft all on the scene, Opera's battle is more doomed than ever.
We hear this every time a new browser is launched, whether it is for mobile phones, desktop computers or other devices. And every single time, Opera's growth continues, or even accelerates. Indeed, after Google launched Chrome, the growth of the desktop version of Opera actually accelerated, both in number of downloads and active users!
Mr. Lanxon should keep in mind that increased focus on browser choice and alternative browsers actually benefits Opera! It means that more people realize that they have a choice, growing the market for everyone, which leads to new opportunities for Opera.
It should take its clearly talented teams of developers and shift its focus to the mobile world where it can really thrive. It should focus on the types of devices it's already winning with — the Nintendo Wii for one, and even the Archos handhelds — and claim a dominant position.
That too may be in vain, what with the aforementioned behemoths all working in that space too, but I feel if Opera has any chance of success, it's there, and not on the desktop.
I think Opera can do good things on all platforms. And indeed, this is one of Opera's strengths: Opera is available on more platforms than probably any other browser.
Our vision is to deliver the best Internet experience on any device on all major platforms.
It should be obvious that PCs are part of this vision, and there's no reason why Opera should undermine its own strategy by limiting platform availability unnecessarily.
And while giants like Google and Microsoft may seem "scary", one must realize that they have their own bottom lines to think about. So OEMs and operators may actually find their revenue streams threatened if they rely too heavily on either of these companies. Indeed, Apple has already managed to force operators to their knees, allowing them to eat a huge part of the pie.
Opera, unlike these "behemoths", is an independent company which focuses on browsers. This means that Opera is not a threat to its customers and partners, and better yet, by choosing Opera, you can get the same browsing experience on any platform and device. You won't have to tie yourself to a single platform (iPhone, Windows Mobile, Android, and so on) to get a great browsing experience!
OEMs and operators can continue to deliver on the platforms that are best adapted for each product, and by choosing Opera, they get access to a whole family of products and services that can help you get your products to market faster, at far lower cost, and on just about any platform.
And finally, the market is huge. There is room for both behemoths and smaller players in the browser and online services markets. In the future, anything with a screen will be expected to have a real browser. Creating your own browser, even based on existing code, takes a long time, and is expensive. Google spent more than two years working on Chrome before it was announced.
And then there's the maintenance, including future updates, security issues, and so on. It might be a better idea to simply get a company which specializes in browsers to do the job for you. It could save you a lot of time and money in both the short and long term, especially if you have multiple platforms.
So there will definitely be a lot of business opportunities for Opera and other browser companies. The market will be huge, and the behemoths will not cater to everyone's needs.