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In the US, the latest figures by Net Applications showed Opera is 5th in the market with a 2% share behind Microsoft, Apple, Google and Firefox.
But Opera claimed in other parts of the globe it is the most popular browser of choice with growth last year of 67%.
"The reality is that in the U.S. we have some work to do," Opera boss Jon von Tetzchner told BBC News.
In short, it's a very good browser from an innovative company, and it has always surprised me that they haven't done better -- at least in the U.S. where my server access logs tell me that my targeted audiences are hardly even aware of it.
Anyway, whether it suits my personal UI tastes or not, it's a high-quality product and it deserves to do better... Good stuff. Maybe they can leverage an apparently-higher awareness of their mobile browser to boost usage of the desktop version.
Recent innovations such as Speed Dial have already popped up in other browsers.
One key thing area I've always felt set Opera apart is the usability intelligence that's embedded into the interface. That saves me untold time in the day, every day. Here's what I appreciate regularly:
1. Opera Notes - user determined chunks of text that are commonly needed for qopy/paste.
2. Remembering the order in which tabs were given focus
3. Making history available for an entire session - even after tabs have been closed they can be reopened with the entire history still available.
4. Easy "View Source" customization
6. Forward and Back buttons that display from the cache, with no delay (or overwrite) from new server calls
7. One click access to the RSS feed reader in a Panel
There are a bajillion more small touches that won me over and keep me happy. And I do love my custom interface, which is quite minimalist.
However, the average web user probably doesn't even notice all these goodies. And that's been the marketing challenge for Opera. Their user base is a different breed from any more general target market they might expand into.
[edited by: tedster at 4:41 pm (utc) on Sep. 20, 2009]
Therefore, the problem is not the product, it's the marketing -- Very little or zero effort to 'sell' this to the U.S. market that I'm aware of, and apparently very little awareness of it outside the E.U.
I *think* that their current business model is to give away the desktop browser to gain recognition for their mobile browser, which they sell for profit to mobile device makers. But since little marketing effort has been expended on the 'free' desktop browser, I'm not sure that that plan is working.
The Opera mobile browser has done fairly well in Japan, not only on phones, but also hand-held games. That's about the only place I see it.
I'm with tedster when it comes to personal usage. Opera has been my default browser for many years now as it saves me time and makes my work easier. However, I do wish they had a more active developer community because the add-ons available pale in comparison to those available to the FireFox community.