It seems that Opera loves to stay in the news. Now that they have taken a break from releasing new products at a breakneck pace, they are keeping themselves busy by drafting self-congratulatory press releases. The latest one celebrates the fact that Opera Software reached the milestone of having 100 million users in March.
Of course, this is not a surprising piece of news, since Opera Mini had amassed 50 million users in January 2010 itself. The desktop version was reported as having 45 million users back in December 2009.
As always, there are two ways of looking at these stats. The fact that Opera Mini has rocketed to 50 million users bodes well for Opera Software. However, its desktop browser continues to disappoint. Opera may have added 40 million active users since it went free, but its market share still pales in comparison to Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox. In fact, according to most analytic firms, Opera for desktop is still struggling to touch the 3% mark.
Opera 10.5 was undoubtedly an impressive release, but Chrome’s recent beta builds have once again highlighted the glaring omissions in Opera. In spite of being around for more than a decade, Opera still doesn’t have an intelligent form filler and the lack of an API means that others can’t build one either. Google has been incredibly smart about Chrome. Since they outset they have targeted key features and now their vision is paying rich dividends. Until Opera Software wakes up, it will continue to struggle to go mainstream.