As we are looking back on 15 years of Opera on the desktop (the Web is 20 years old), we can make the observation that Opera's growth on the desktop is accelerating.
According to both one of the replies to your questions to Jon and as a recent video interview (this part 2. You can also watch part 1 and 3), Opera's desktop user base grew by 55% in 2007 and 67% in 2008.
We have also reached about 40 million desktop users, up from 30 million at the end of 2008, and 35 million in February or March (which apparently translated into a global market share of 2-3% at the time, based on the total number of users online across the world). …
The release of Google Chrome, which some feared would be the death of Opera on the desktop (it's the same story every time a new competitor enters the market :rolleyes:), actually helped Opera's growth, according to the video interview. On the other hand, Chrome may not have been so lucky despite Google's dominating position in online advertising and ads all over the Web. Opera remains ahead of Chrome, if browser statistics are to be believed.
But perhaps Chrome is undercounted the same way Opera seems to be in some statistics?
Opera as a desktop browser was born 15 years ago, but has only been free of charge for about 3 and a half years. A global market share of about 3% after 15 years may not sound very impressive, but it wasn't until the desktop browser was released for free that we actually opened up to the mass-market. Before that, Opera was definitely mostly a niche product.
So while Opera might be 15 years old, the current market share figures don't reflect 15 years of Opera. They mainly reflect the last 3.5 years.
And while Opera's global market share may seem low, there are indications that we are fairly strong in Europe. In fact, we may even be much bigger than anyone might think in certain parts of the world.
Opera 10 and 11 will probably help us grow even more.