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
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."
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]
is not allowed on the iPhone, as Apple only allows third party
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
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
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.
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."
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.