OSLO, Norway--Opera Software, the scrappy Norwegian browser maker, today faces arguably the biggest competitive threats of its 15-year history.
The first challenges are on personal computers. Right after Google's Chrome burst onto the scene two years ago, Opera slipped from fourth to fifth place in browser usage worldwide. And longtime archrival Microsoft is no longer the punching bag of the browser market; its forthcoming IE9 is a serious attempt to match rivals in performance and support for new Web standards.
Second, in Opera's other domain, Apple's iPhone and now Google's Android are rewriting the mobile browsing rules. Their browsers are adapted for phones more like miniature desktop computers than the small-screened, candy bar-shape models that prevailed when Opera's mobile browsing business began.
And yet the Oslo underdog has adapted to crises before and appears to be adapting to the present changes as well.
In a series of interviews at its headquarters here, Opera executives showed they suffer no illusions about the competition. They also made a credible case that Opera, while not about to dethrone its bigger rivals, will continue to defend its turf with a profitable business.
A new mobile strategy One cornerstone of its confidence comes from a major shift in its mobile strategy in response to a dark, unprofitable patch in the second half of 2009. Opera shifted its alliance efforts from phone companies to the powerful network operators who see their future threatened by the new generation of smartphones and services. … Read more