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Rolf Assev, Chief Strategy Officer at Opera Software ASA  (Source: CrunchBase)
Opera's Chief Strategy Officer Talks About Leadership Change, Browsers

One company that DailyTech covered extensively over the past couple of years is Norway's Opera Software ASA, a third-party browser maker. Opera has long been a small, but significant player in the browser market.  Despite having less than 5 percent of the desktop market, it has been a leading force in pushing advanced web technologies.  It also was the first browser maker to work out a search revenue sharing agreement. 

Today Opera is at a crossroads in terms of growth and services offered.  It has currently built an impressive mobile market share, producing the world's top mobile browser in terms of market share -- Opera Mobile and Opera Mini.  It also has branched into the console world, producing browsers for the Nintendo DSi and Nintendo Wii.  It also is now under new leadership with founder and long-time CEO Jon Stephenson von Tetzchner stepping down on January 5 and being replaced by Lars Boilesen.

We spoke with Opera's Chief Strategy Officer Rolf Assev on the leadership change and the company's future.  First and foremost, Mr. Assev emphasized that the leadership change was not an indication that Mr. Tetzchner was easing away from his leadership role at Opera.

He describes, "I think it's important to point out that this is not something that came as a surprise; Jon for some time has indicated that he wanted to step down and focus on some things besides being CEO... His focus now will be on the development of Opera and company strategy."

The new CEO brings a more business-minded approach and will help Opera perform better financially, while Mr. Tetzchner's continued role at Opera allows the company to continue its technical leadership, according to Mr. Assev.  He states, "I think its a good match."

On the topic of being number one in the mobile browsing market.  Mr. Assev reports, "We're the browser that is most used.  In the U.S. the iPhone browser is the most used, but globally Opera is most used." [Source: StatCounter]

Opera is not allowed on the iPhone, as Apple only allows third party browsers based on WebKit in the app store.

He states that Opera is looking to develop search revenue sharing agreements in the mobile sector, though it hasn't yet.  He describes, "We were the first ones to integrate Google search into our browsers [and work out revenue sharing].  Since that everyone has been copying us.  Our arrangement has been quite profitable.  Google has been a great partner, though they are now also a competitor, which presents new challenges."

He continues about advertising in the mobile sector, stating, "We've been sitting back and looking at it and trying to evaluate when revenue from advertising is worth doing on the mobile. Possibilities like location-aware advertising on smart phone seem very promising.  We believe mobile advertising will be very important down the the road, even if it hasn't been done yet."

Opera, which renegotiated its search-revenue contract with Google in Fall 2009, says it's nearing the point where it may choose to leverage its industry leading market share in the mobile sector for ad revenue.  For now, both in the desktop and the mobile sector, it has been reaping additional profits off of auctioning off non-search browser real estate.  For example, it includes Amazon shortcuts in its browser -- and it earns a percentage on purchases made through those elements.

Currently, Opera's desktop market share sits at around 2 percent, but Mr. Assev says that sector looks very promising.  He states,"It's a bit strange but where we've seen our biggest growth is actually on the desktop.  Now more people see that there are different browsers on the market.  That has had a positive impact for Opera."

He says that despite tough challenges from Google and others in the desktop, mobile, and even console sectors, Opera will continue to post gains.  And with new CEO Lars Boilesen directing the commercial efforts, and former CEO Jon von Tetzchner helping guide strategy and technical development, he feels that Opera will be force to be reckoned with.



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Go for it Opera
By Belard on 1/19/2010 2:27:40 PM , Rating: 1
Opera, you guys got a very good browser.

10.x is the best yet, hands down. Clean design, easy to use and customizable. And your design team finally made a default skin that many people don't need to change... even thou there are very talented Opera fans out there that make custom skins.

You guys still have a few minor kinks and you NEED to KICK your forum moderators in the butt for having ego/attitude problems. Really, when we (the users) are trying to help you guys out and the moderator censors a post that is NOT spam, bad, whatever... it reflects badly on you.

A constant bug in Opera 10.x, since beta and STILL a bug even today involves text boxes like the kind used on forums and blogs. I think it has to do with how your new spell-checker works with letters/forms. It fixed-word may cause the word to go down a line and you can't see it. You can't scroll to it until you hit RETURN 1-2 times, then re-edit the word back up. Very constant and old.

How about an option to open a new tab automatically into
the background when the user right-mouse clicks a link. (PS: U had to spell check automatically - and the four words after that disappeared - UNTIL I hit Return/Enter UGH)

Or if a user has more than 1 browser window open, that a user option (under notifications) will warn the user of more than one browser window is open! In Windows7, this causes more accidents because of the new taskbar. Some of us may have 5~7 tabs open in window (A), but used 1-2 tabs in Window (B) to compare/do work for a while. But then we may accidentally close the Window (A) forgetting there is a
(B) and end up losing our 5~7 tabs!! Whats left is a useless spare browser window that we'd thought was already closed. Not a hard thing to add.

That said, I'd give opera 10 a 9 out of 10 score.
Opera 10.5 looks slick... but those issues needs to be addressed too.




RE: Go for it Opera
By WTFzilla on 1/20/2010 12:10:58 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
You guys still have a few minor kinks and you NEED to KICK your forum moderators in the butt for having ego/attitude problems. Really, when we (the users) are trying to help you guys out and the moderator censors a post that is NOT spam, bad, whatever... it reflects badly on you.

Sounds like you are the one with the attitude problem. The mods on their site are some of the most lenient I have ever seen.

Try posting even a half negative comment over at the Mozilla forums. Instant ban.

I'm guessing you violated the rules, and got pissed off because the mods enforced them. But it was your fault for breaking the rules in the first place.

Also, why are you posting all that stuff? Do you really think they will read it?


RE: Go for it Opera
By Belard on 1/21/2010 7:01:13 AM , Rating: 2
Oh excuse me... what is blog and forums setup for in places like this and on Operas websites? Oh yeah, they are there for people to share ideas, problems and solutions.

I didn't say anything about Opera MODs, so I don't get your angle on that.

I has posted nothing negative like "you guys suck" or whatever. Pointed out that a BUG in opera 10, which has ALWAYS been there SINCE Beta is a B U G . And every time it does its BUGGY thing, it makes Opera look less polished, needs more work.

For people who use blogs, forums and other heavy text forums, it makes using Opera 10 a bit of a pain in the butt to use.

quote:
Try posting even a half negative comment over at the Mozilla forums. Instant ban.


Any software developer who ignores constructive criticism or recommendations are morons. That includes Microsoft. While I could say "IE Sucks"... well, its not horrible. I like to use something better and I do. It means a bit more to say why they suck. I remember talking to a top exec/whatever of a small software company (They sold the top word processor for Amigas waaaay back), it did things that MS-Word 2000 can't do in spell checking. They had just released a new major revision and it included fonts disks just for upgraders for $30. I asked him "What about having an Undo function?" Because deleting a whole paragraph by accident means lots of cursing. The text editor I used back then had 1000+ undo/redo history.
What did he say "Nope, its not what the programmers want"? HUH? What? Its a bloody word processor! Told the guy that the upgrade wasn't worth $30.

Sometimes, programmers think like PROGRAMMERS when they work on a project. Which is why they DO need an outsider that says "uh, wait... that doesn't work in the real world".

So, some parts of FireFox or whatever projects may have issues that are ignored. Just as Open Office has problems it ignores (for years) which makes OO still so-so in some areas. They have gotten a lot better.

No, I violated no rule. I asked the MOD what rule was broken. Pointing out a stupid bug that should be easy to fix since its a constant everyday bug and having the Opera team ignore it, makes the moderators the ones with the problem, mostly. And yeah, I did send in an official bug report. Actually, quite a number off us got pissed off and just don't bother anymore.

What, Opera employees read this... possible, not counting on it. If they don't care about their bugs, it only hurts them more than me.


RE: Go for it Opera
By WTFzilla on 1/21/2010 12:44:37 PM , Rating: 2
<q>I didn't say anything about Opera MODs, so I don't get your angle on that.</q>
You complained about the mods (moderators). However, they are crazily lenient compared to other forums.

<q>Pointed out that a BUG in opera 10</q>
People are poiting out bugs all the time over in the Opera forums without problems. Clearly, you are not being entirely honest about the whole thing.


RE: Go for it Opera
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RE: Go for it Opera
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RE: Go for it Opera
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Opera has long been a good browser...
By Fox5 on 1/19/2010 2:13:55 PM , Rating: 2
Beset by poor fortune.

Early on when they had a large variety of advantages over other browsers (they blazed the way for many features now expected in browsers) they still charged for a browser, and the web was very MS and flash dominated.

Had they gone free sooner, they'd have had a chance to grab market share like firefox did.
Still, a good lightweight browser to keep on a flash drive, and my favorite mobile browser still. (though firefox mobile has potential, mainly due to real flash support, but everything is getting that soon)




RE: Opera has long been a good browser...
By Belard on 1/19/2010 2:35:21 PM , Rating: 1
Agreed 100%.

It was when Firefox came out and Opera noticed that FF had done in months what Opera haven't done in 8 years. So they finally got rid of the add-banner scheme or pay models.

Part of the problem why those didn't work is that IE was free, Navigator was free and where does one buy a browser?

Also, Opera has had interface designs that were lacking in which a user-designed skin was a must. NIX was/is a favorite for Opera until 10 came out as it made opera look like XP-MCE. Opera 9 was a major step in the right direction.

To this day, FireFox is still useless for my needs and has major stupid issues that I've posted to them years ago (FF 1.x), after that I tried Opera (which just became free) and been using it as my primary browser since then.


By WTFzilla on 1/20/2010 12:17:03 PM , Rating: 2
Actually, Opera wasn't even free before Firefox came out. You can't really count those years since it was always just supposed to be a niche browser.

They didn't aim for the mass-market until late 2005.


By bupkus on 1/19/2010 3:35:28 PM , Rating: 2
I am so relieved that I finally managed to get another browser on my Treo. I started (of course) with IE as comes with MS Mobile 6.1 then tried Skyfire which I didn't like and subsequently removed.
Now, I hardly use my phone for browsing and recently found whenever I tried to reach a certain website my ISP's DNS servers couldn't resolve. I posted and found every responder outside the Comcast network could. IOWs, I needed my cell phone internet. I booted IE Mobile and could only get a white screen!???
I finally managed to download Opera Mobile B2 by opening a Google "favorite/bookmark" in IE and I really do like it. I find the "speed dial" link page is more useful in mobile than I even thought on desktop.

To me it's a keeper.




By omnicronx on 1/19/2010 5:08:00 PM , Rating: 2
Opera mobile 10 is quite good.. I have absolutely no complaints and I have not look back since I started using it.


too many nagging problems
By Shadowmaster625 on 1/20/2010 9:18:20 AM , Rating: 2
Opera has so many issues with pages not loading or rendering correctly. Especially notice it when I read zerohedge.com. It's just goddawful.

Luckily, the user interface is customizable, even to the point where I was able to add a button to open the page in firefox! I tried searching the opera forums and starting topics, but its like no one is having the types of problems I'm having. Either that or no one uses this browser and hence there's no one to debug it.




RE: too many nagging problems
By WTFzilla on 1/20/2010 12:17:58 PM , Rating: 2
I'm not seeing any problems at zerohedge.com.


By T2k on 1/20/2010 3:26:09 AM , Rating: 1
This "von Tetzchner" fella was the signature bonehead of this arrogant company - as someone correctly pointed out below they fucked up their ONLY chances back then - back then, I must add, when these arrogant boneheads refused to drop their fees...

...oh well, now nobody really gives a fuck about Opera anymore and their utterly pathetic whining for the European agencies to punish their competitors is just FUCKIN PATHETIC, really fuckin lame and amateur and dispecable and I'm originally from Europe.

ANd then their latest 'uhh-ohh-so-revolutionary' quick sharing stuff is nothing but an idiotic, useless gimmick, working like (almost literally) running a webserver from your desktop: just who the fuck wants to do it on his uplink and in this age of readily available blogs, galleries, even entire site engines who the fuck needs this anyway?

Go back to mobile browsing, that's where you are good, Opera.




By WTFzilla on 1/20/2010 12:05:58 PM , Rating: 2
How is it boneheaded to generate revenue? They had to make money back then, and it was before they managed to secure the search deal with Google. Opera is a company, and needs to make money if it is to survive. The only bonehead here is commies who think companies can keep running with no money.

And why are you whining about Opera reporting Microsoft's crimes to the authorities? Why are you not whining about Mozilla and Google, who joined the complaint as well? Is it only bad when Opera does something?

And you are clearly missing the point of Unite, but I guess your intelligence isn't too high considering the rest of your comments.

Opera has more than doubled its desktop user base in less than two years, so they seem to be doing fine there. Also, Opera 10.5 destroys everything when it comes to raw speed.


At least edit the press release a little...
By mfenn on 1/19/10, Rating: -1
By ICBM on 1/19/2010 2:31:36 PM , Rating: 4
I think they were referring to features that Opera has brought to the table over the years, not that it dominates market share(though it does in the mobile space). Point being they invented a lot of things other browsers copied, and people now take for granted.


RE: At least edit the press release a little...
By Belard on 1/19/2010 2:42:48 PM , Rating: 1
They have a major mobile market share and have been around since 1996, before IE and FF. Many features you see today on IE 7~8 and FF was done long ago on Opera. Also, Opera used to be a 800k download. Man it was ugly back then, but its always done some neat things.

Opera, has more features than IE.
1 - Cross platform compatibility (Windows, Mac, Nixes)
2 - Very very fast (IE 8 wouldn't be here without Opera)
3 - Very secure
4 - Very Internet standards compatible (IE breaks compatiblity)
5 - Nicer download manager
6 - skins

Use Opera for a week, most people I show Opera tend to use it afterwards. Yeah 2% of the market is lame, but Opera isn't a 3rd rate product.


By Motoman on 1/19/2010 2:49:19 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Many features you see today on IE 7~8 and FF was done long ago on Opera.


Let me fix that:

"Essentially all of the features you see today on IE 7~8 and FF and Chrome was done long ago on Opera."


RE: At least edit the press release a little...
By mfenn on 1/19/2010 5:35:16 PM , Rating: 2
I wasn't commenting on the quality of the browser, only the quality (or lack thereof) of the article.

Lemme bold the weasel words for you:
quote:
One company that DailyTech covered extensively over the past couple of years is Norway's Opera Software ASA, a third-party browser maker. Opera has long been a small, but significant player in the browser market. Despite having less than 5 percent of the desktop market, it has been a leading force in pushing advanced web technologies . It also was the first browser maker to work out a search revenue sharing agreement.


RE: At least edit the press release a little...
By Belard on 1/19/2010 6:53:18 PM , Rating: 2
Oh.... I understood you weren't dissing Opera itself. But yeah, Opera does have far small of the market share than they should have... but I'd blame Opera's management for at least the past 6~8 years for that problem.

But personally, I wasn't a fan of the interface until around ver.7 and it wasn't a "free" browser.


By Belard on 1/19/2010 7:01:38 PM , Rating: 2
Oops... posted a bit to early.

There isn't too much difference between 6~7, even looking at a screen shot of 6.0 (2001) the tabs and layout isn't too much different. But IE had 95+% of the market and what people viewed as an incompatibility of Opera was actually MS damaging the Internet by creating their own "broken" standard.


By WTFzilla on 1/20/2010 12:09:20 PM , Rating: 2
So because they are using positive words to describe Opera, that is a bad thing?

Geez...


RE: At least edit the press release a little...
By quiksilvr on 1/19/2010 7:49:02 PM , Rating: 2
It's going to be even more tragic when Firefox Mobile and Google Chrome Mobile come out and decimate the market.


By WTFzilla on 1/20/2010 12:19:03 PM , Rating: 2
There will probably never be a standalone "Chrome Mobile" since Google wants everyone to use Android and Chrome OS.

But even if it happens, Opera will keep growing. Opera's desktop version actually permanently doubled its daily downloads after Chrome's release.

Firefox Mobile is a joke. It's pathetic even on the N900.


RE: At least edit the press release a little...
By CharonPDX on 1/19/2010 10:18:16 PM , Rating: 2
First: Yes, Opera is better than IE. That's not saying much. *EVERY* other browser is better than IE. Opera isn't competing on the desktop as much against IE as they are against FireFox, Safari, and Chrome. And in that race, they're not "third rate", they're fifth.

In some countries, they are much higher. More power to them.

In the mobile space, pretty much anywhere the iPhone isn't, they are first by a longshot. Where the iPhone is, they're either first or second. (Although I have a feeling they're going to lose even second place as more Android phones catch on.) And on non-smartphones, they're the best thing out there, regardless of market share. (Until I got my iPhone, I used Opera exclusively on my pre-WebKit Symbian smartphone.)


By Belard on 1/19/2010 11:55:48 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
they are against FireFox, Safari, and Chrome. And in that race, they're not "third rate", they're fifth.


How do you figure they are 5th rate? 3rd rate is pretty low... and you just agreed that Opera is better than IE.

FF 3.5+ is pretty nice, does some things better than Opera. Chrome is sparse and my opinion, I don't use it... but I'd use over FF. If there was only IE 8 and FF3.5 in the world - I'd most likely have to use IE.


RE: At least edit the press release a little...
By Belard on 1/19/2010 2:48:08 PM , Rating: 1
Oh....

There are over 10 million users of Opera on desktops alone.

There are only a handful of PC games that have that many buyers.


By WTFzilla on 1/20/2010 12:06:22 PM , Rating: 2
Actually, Opera has more than 40 million desktop users, up from 20 million a couple of years ago.


By eddieroolz on 1/20/2010 1:14:42 AM , Rating: 2
Interesting how the top users of Opera are all in former Soviet bloc nations!


RE: At least edit the press release a little...
By T2k on 1/20/2010 10:21:13 AM , Rating: 1
Yeah, countries ranked lowest both in income per capita and internet use - great fuckin market share, Opera. :)


By mino on 1/20/2010 10:13:00 PM , Rating: 2
Well maybe because in those coutries most people willing to shell $20+/month for usable 500kbit DSL line may have a clue that "e" does no equal Internet?

Basically, the markets where Opera has a stronghold are mostly the ones where technical literacy is significantly above-average.
As a vendor, I would consider that fact as a compliment.


By WTFzilla on 1/21/2010 12:46:24 PM , Rating: 2
Wow, racism much?

Guess what, all these companies, like Google, Microsoft, etc. are very eager to get into such markets because that's where the real growth is. That Opera is doing well in markets that are growing crazily fast is a good thing for the company.


RE: At least edit the press release a little...
By omnicronx on 1/19/2010 5:01:53 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
I mean, let's try to be objective here. Any browser with 1.3% share is NOT significant.
You mean desktop share.. Opera accounts for a HUGE percentage of browsers on mobile devices. From Opera Mobile on smartphones to Opera Mini which is found on millions upon millions of phones worldwide. (on smartphones too but it is not limited to).

As it stands right now, Opera is used by more people on their phones than any other browser, including Safari.

So if you are going to be objective, perhaps you should be looking at all the angles.


RE: At least edit the press release a little...
By mfenn on 1/19/2010 5:28:56 PM , Rating: 2
Yep, you are right was referring to desktop market share. IMHO, Opera should focus on the mobile sector, as that's where they've shown that they can excel. 1.3% of desktop share after 14 years on the market is just lame.

Hopefully they've found their niche this time.


By WTFzilla on 1/20/2010 12:13:50 PM , Rating: 1
1/3 of Opera's revenue is from the desktop version. Desktop revenue has been increasing more than 100% several quarters in a row.

And they have a 3-5% global market share.

And you can't count 14 years. They only dropped the ads about 4 years ago. Before that Opera was just a niche browser. You need to count from the time they decided to go for the mass-market.

Since they have more than 40 million users now, they have gained more than 10 million users yearly since they dropped the ads.


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