DailyTech: God dag! (Traditional Norwegian formal greeting) We appreciate you taking the time to chat with DailyTech about the exciting things going on at Opera. We wanted to start off by asking you how your unique location affects your worldwide business. Your biggest competitors -- Microsoft, the Mozilla Foundation, Apple, and now Google -- are all based in the west coast U.S. Do you see better adoption in Europe and other countries outside the U.S. as the biggest foreign browser manufacturer?
Jon S. von Tetzchner, CEO and founder of Opera Software:
Our Scandinavian roots have very much influenced our product and company. We defined the mobile opportunity for Web browsing and I think that's down to our location. And our location also influences our values, particularly how we focus on the user and make it adaptable to your needs, out of the box. At the same time we are a global company with offices in nine countries, including the U.S. As a growing, Norwegian company, we are used to adapting to requirements in many different locations around the world and we are eager to please all our users. And while we have seen greater adoption outside the U.S., I see more users from the U.S. everyday. I think the word is spreading mostly thanks to our active community in the U.S.
DailyTech: How else do you see your location impacting your business?
Mr. Tetzchner: We see a tremendous strength in diversity, which is down to our most personal values. In those nine offices, we have 51 nationalities represented. I guess we are kind of like the U.S. itself that way. Also, I think the partners we have globally expect a level of craftsmanship and a certain level of quality from Scandinavian companies. I believe they find both those characteristics in Opera.
DailyTech: The biggest news for Opera is probably the release of 9.6. This is the first full release since June (9.5) and it comes at a critical time with Google releasing Chrome, Mozilla releasing Firefox 3, and IE 8 incoming. What are some quick thoughts on the browser?
Mr. Tetzchner: Where we differ from Chrome and other browsers is that we are focused on what we can do for you, the person who uses Opera. We spend the time and effort to create useful features and then integrate it in the browser. This means our browser works very well and is very light on your computer. It's also very fast and the features don't slow it down.
We believe in giving users the tools they need. Outside of add-ons, Chrome, Firefox and IE all think the browser should get out of your way. We continually add and refine features to make browsing more productive, organized and efficient. You have to bog down other browsers to have the extra features we include, like Speed Dial for your top sites, an e-mail client, notes, the trash can for closed tabs, etc.
Our belief from the very beginning was that the browser complements what you do online; it can be a useful tool in and of itself. Of course, you can customize Opera and make it do almost anything you want. But the big features we take the time to code, test and bake into the browser.
DailyTech: What features about Opera 9.6 do you see as trump cards over Firefox, Internet Explorer, Safari, and Chrome?
Mr. Tetzchner: Our features are what set us apart and what really defines Opera for many of our users. We have spent the last 14 years innovating. Although some of our features have found their way into other browsers, there is a lot left.
I think first and foremost is speed. Opera is fast. Speed is so many things, but it includes speed of loading pages, speed of display, but also speed of operation. This is where
Opera excels with a lot of features that set it apart from other browsers like mouse gestures, fast forward and rewind, the wand for passwords, a robust tool for saving and restoring browsing sessions and Quick find, the full-text search for your browsing history.
Overall Opera performs really well on slower networks. Opera's caching mechanism means that Opera spends less time loading pages. Note the difference when Opera goes back and forward in history on normal pages, compared to other browsers. This is a clear usability improvement.
Opera is built with a lot of features, while built to run on both new and old hardware. The e-mail client, for example, allows you to work with a lot of e-mails much more efficiently. With 400,000 e-mails in my mailbox, I can tell you no other e-mail client does this better.
DailyTech: How does the speed of the browser stack up against the competition? What kind of key initiatives do you have to improve the browser speed?
The most important aspect of speed, I find, is how fast you can actually use the product to navigate the Web. I believe most users will find Opera to be significantly faster than other browsers in this respect. Speed continues to be our focus and we will continue to innovate to make the browsing more effective. This does not only apply to display and loading, but also the effectiveness. Our goal is to make the Web faster for the users and we will continue to innovate to make that possible.
DailyTech: Speaking of Chrome, how do you see the release of the Mountain View giant's browser effecting Opera and your position in the alternative browser market already packed with Firefox and Safari?
Mr. Tetzchner: When Chrome was released, we said that our usage would likely increase. As more people discover that alternatives exist, they are more likely to stumble upon even more alternatives. Since the release of Chrome, we have seen 20% more downloads of Opera every day.
It's also important to note that Chrome will help our position regarding Web standards. This is great for everyone connected to the Web: browser makers, developers and users.
DailyTech: Opera doesn't have a very large browser market share in the business sector, from current estimates. Will Opera 9.6 help Opera gain a foothold in this market?
Mr. Tetzchner: Every release we do helps increase our market share. This applies to all users. Some of the improvements to the e-mail client, like our low-bandwidth mode for when you're out on the road, and the option to follow or ignore contacts and e-mail threads are meant for efficiency and I find are perfect for business users.
When it comes to add-ons, we obviously consider them. However, we believe that our efforts on Widgets are more important on a larger scale. The Web is becoming the new platform of choice for development. Now you can write a program that will run on not only Windows, Mac and various Linux and UNIX platforms, it will also run on mobile phones, TVs and game consoles. In fact, widgets are already available through KDDI in Japan and are a key part of the new Web'n'Walk service by T-Mobile. When you add the capabilities found in HTML 5, such as Canvas and server-sent events, local storage and SVG, we are moving the Web to another dimension.
DailyTech: What's the strongest argument for (home) users choosing Opera 9.6 over the alternatives?
Mr. Tetzchner: Opera is the richest browser around. The features we build in make Opera a very effective browser. Given the amount of time people spend online, the features Opera has means that it is unmatched when it comes to flexibility and effectiveness.
DailyTech: To go in a decidedly different direction, my sources tell me that Opera is making a new browser which will come preloaded on the upcoming Nintendo DSi to be released in Japan in November. If this is correct, as I believe it to be, this is very exciting news for Opera. Can you comment on this?
Mr. Tetzchner: Nintendo have stated that Opera will be a free download for the DSi. This is obviously very exciting for us. The DSi is a great new device and we are extremely happy with our cooperation with Nintendo. They are a very creative company and that can be seen in all their products. We are very excited to be part of that.
DailyTech: How do you see your close relationship with wildly successful Nintendo affecting your company?
Mr. Tetzchner: Working with Nintendo is a deep honor, and to be part of revolutionary products like the Nintendo Wii and Nintendo DS is exciting for everyone at Opera. Although our company is from Norway, I find we share some common values, particularly in regard to our work ethic, creativity and imagination. I look forward to many productive years of ongoing collaboration with Nintendo.
To have a company of their stature choose Opera has not only energized our company, but the community of Opera users around the world. Many new people have discovered Opera directly because of our involvement with Nintendo.
DailyTech: One final question -- what kind of new initiatives from Opera are going to cause some real excitement in 2009? And this might be a tough question, but when do you see Opera 10.0 hitting the market? (10.0 being a sort of landmark release, at least in number)
Mr. Tetzchner: I like surprises, so I won't say too much. The next version of Opera will indeed be a landmark and you won't be kept waiting too long. I think it's safe to say we will focus on our key product areas of speed, standards and security. I hope that you and your readers will be pleased with what's in store.
DailyTech: I'd like to thank you for your time, Mr. Tetzchner, and I wish your company great luck in your future endeavors. Keep up the great work, we can't wait to see what you and your staff have in store!
Mr. Tetzchner: Thank you for the opportunity! We're always happy to have a chance to speak to DailyTech.