Why Is Opera Not Popular?

Why Is Opera Not Popular?

Lets get this straight. Even though I find browser quite  feature rich when I compare it to other browsers, it is not one of the most popular browser as you know it. As a matter of fact it only has 2% of browser market share. I have been closely following topics related to Opera on Quora (my new love! but more on that later) and found few interesting topics about Opera!

Opera Logo

But let’s discuss Why is Opera not popular?

Xudong Yang, a Web Developer, has jotted down exactly my thoughts in a blog post. To Quote him:

Poor advertisement: IE is the default on Windows, Safari the default on Mac, Firefox/Chromium the default on several Linux distributions. Moreover, we see IE9 ads, Chrome ads, and (rarer these days) Firefox with Google Toolbar ads. I’ve practically never seen Opera ads. Whether this is due to poor finance or bad marketing strategy I’ve no idea, but Opera sure could be much better off if it were in the first place more widely known.

I won’t quote his entire blog post as I’m only interested to concentrate on the advertisement part. But I really suggest you read his blog post. He makes a lot of good points.

Recently, I had a once in lifetime opportunity to meet the founder of Opera; Jon Von Tetzchner, during his Mumbai Meetup. I had always wanted to ask Opera why they did not spend money on advertising and what’s better than asking the man himself. So I did.

Jon Von Tetzchner explained that for spending money, Opera needed money, which they didn’t have. And that word of mouth publicity has worked for them. Bullshit I say. Opera recently announced that Opera had reached a new milestone of 150 million users and here’s the breakdown of it.

For the uninitiated, Opera, for the major part, earns from the search bar on the browser when you make a search query. Assuming 75% of Opera Desktop users use the search bar  at least once a day it’s freaking 37,500,000 searches a day. Now we know that users do not search that freely on their mobile device than they do on desktop. So let’s consider 25% of Opera Mobile and mini users use the search bar daily. That’s again 25,000,000. That makes it a total of 62,500,000 searches EACH DAY! So, don’t tell me you don’t make money!

And if you remember, Mozilla’s Firefox initially rose to popularity because Google promoted it. It has come to the point that Firefox has actually overtaken Internet Explorer as Europe’s dominant browser.  As much as I like Opera browser it really hurts to see the other below standard browsers winning more market share. Opera really needs to do more than Potato videos when it comes to marketing and be more visible to internet users.

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Apurva Chaudhary

Apurva is a tech enthusiast, works at ClassMatrix , cycles on her Firefox Cyclone, and runs a newsletter at Techknots . Follow her on Twitter

  • Ashutosh

    That’s a very good point! Opera is a very good browser, but that’s not enough today as every other browser is almost equally good. To win market share, you have to get your product out for the masses to see, as Google’s doing with Chrome.

    The Opera developers also need to listen more to public requests. They could’ve added extension support since ages, yet they chose to stay with the horrible floating widgets. Opera has got extension support now, but again it’s not as good as that in Chrome (and there’s no excuse for this as Opera is already late to the game, and its extension structure is very similar to that in Chrome and Safari).

  • I have to agree that in the past, Opera’s promotional efforts have been shady. However, in the recent past they have been doing really well. They have had a few viral successes, especially on Reddit (I covered that over here, earlier).
    But, promotion is just one of the many reasons behind Opera’s failure. I had articulated my views in this Quora discussion thread. I am quoting what I previously wrote below:

    In my opinion, here are the significant factors

    i) Remained ad-supported for too long: It is the security scares in Internet Explorer that helped kickstart the Firefox revolution. Back then while people were looking for alternate browsers, Opera was not free. Hence, while the Fx movement caught on, Opera languished.
    ii) Opera is different: I believe that Opera’s UI is the best – elegant, simple yet powerful. However, new users might find it too complicated.
    iii) Rendering issues: Opera can’t render many websites properly. I am not saying that this is solely Opera’s fault. I am very much aware of the browser sniffing issues. However, to the end user this is a big turnoff.
    iv) Lack of extensions: Opera has just added extensions. I believe that this has had a significant effect on adoption.
    Yes, most average users don’t use extensions. However, power users do. And these power users are often journalists, bloggers or simply the techie friend everyone listens to. Thus, Opera never really stood a chance of convincing the opinion makers.
    Firefox on the other hand impressed these elite users. They in turn reccomended it to their friends and family members and helped spread the word.
    v) Lack of promotion: Already discussed in-depth. Google has been spending millions to promote Chrome. This is simply not possible for Opera.

    Even the EU Ballot screen failed to help Opera. Yes, it increased the download counts and increased the no. of active users in Q1 2010. However, the no. of users decreased in Q2 and Q3. In the end Opera’s % market share in EU remains largely unchanged.

    You said:

    So, don’t tell me you don’t make money!

    It’s true. Opera is a publicly traded company, so all their finances are in the public domain. They suffered losses a few quarters back, and now are again in the black. But, their profits aren’t huge. Remember that they have 700 employees and numerous offices. Mozilla, by comparison has only about 350 employees. So, Opera can’t afford to spend millions on an advertising campaign like Microsoft or Google. Google has been doing print ads and putting up hording in India. That is something not feasible for Opera.

    A few years back, there were loads of Firefox ads on the web. However, a majority of them were actually Adsense referral unit, where Google was paying webmasters. But, Asa from Mozilla revealed in the aforementioned Quora discussion, Google’s drive didn’t really bring in that many Firefox users. Spreadfirefox.com was way more successful. That suggests that what Opera really missed out on was the word of mouth. And the reasons behind that are probably things like extensions and website compatibility.
    Firefox had loads of opinion makers (vocal advocates) behind it. Opera only had a handful number of dedicated fans.

    Tl;dr: Bad promotion may be one of the contributing factors, but I don’t believe that it is the main reason behind Opera’s poor marketshare.

  • Slow computer startup

    I can say that I hardly hear news, rumors or some media buzz about Opera. Firefox and Chrome are everywhere on the Internet. Maybe this can count as a reason for the low popularity of this browser.

  • IMO: Opera has no comfortable Adblocker like ABP. They have to juggle with some strange text-files and custom filters. That’s a deal breaker.