Facebook might be eyeing Norwegian browser maker Opera Software, if a report from Pocket Lint is to be believed. According to its “man in the know”, Facebook might be preparing to step into the browser market, in order to ensure that no matter what you are doing, you are always connected to your Facebook social graph.
If true, it’s going to be another stunning move by Zuckerberg. Opera currently boasts of more than 200 million users, with a very strong presence in the mobile arena. For many in the developing world, Opera Mini is the only means of surfing the internet. It also has strong relationship with leading handset makers and carriers. Facebook can certainly help Opera in expanding its audience, and Opera can embed Facebook into its user’s life. Opera also has a strong presence in the mobile phone and smart TV market that Facebook will find valuable.
That being said, acquiring a company like Opera is different from acquiring a start-up like Instagram. Opera has dozens of offices with hundreds of employees spread across the globe. Developing browsers is complicated stuff, and Opera has had to really fight it out to survive through multiple browser wars. Facebook and Opera have very little in common in terms of their products. In fact, they even have distinctly different cultures and company ethos. From where I am sitting, this certainly doesn’t look like a marriage made in heaven.
A couple of years back, when Opera co-founder Jon von Tetzchner was at the helm, I could have confidently said that Opera would never sell out. With the new management, I can’t be so sure. However, even then, it’s extremely hard to fathom that Opera will allow itself to come under Facebook’s umbrella. What might happen though is that Facebook and Opera might enter into a partnership. We have already seen Opera develop customized browsers for the likes of Nintendo. It might create and maintain a Rockmelt like browser with tight Facebook integration, in return for eyeballs and revenue from the social networking giant. But, in the recent past, Opera has been focussing on a more streamlined approach with less customized solutions.
When asked for a response, Opera declined to comment citing its standard policy of not reacting to market rumors.