Firefox On Top in Europe; Thanks To Google Chrome And European Union

Earlier today, Clif wrote on how Chrome and Safari are stealing users from IE globally, however, here comes more bad news for Internet Explorer. According to stats released by website tracking firm Stat Counter, has overtaken Internet Explorer as the most used browser in European countries.

Europe Browser Stats

According to Stat Counter, Firefox now has 38.11% share in the European market as compared to IE’s 37.52%. However, here’s the catch. Firefox is not gaining users from Internet Explorer, instead is the one that is making dents into their market share. According to the Stat Counter CEO, Firefox has more or less been stable, whereas IE has been the one losing market share.

Google Chrome has about 14.8% market share as compared to 5.06% in December last year. That itself is a huge gain. Firefox on the other hand have lost market share since last year.

In addition to Google Chrome, this feat can also be credited to the new browser ballot system for browsers that was enforced on all new Windows PCs by law of the European Union.

However, IE is still one of the top browsers in North America, but that crown could soon be placed on top of Firefox’s head too. Google Chrome is by far one of the best browsers available today. However, with around the corner and the new 11 browser it will be very hard for Internet Explorer to overcome the competition.

My prediction is that Google Chrome will own around 25-35% market share by end of 2011 and Opera should end up with 5-7% while Firefox remains stable or sheds some more users.

Opera Software Set to Showcase New Tablet Browser at CES 2011

OperaLast year, Opera Software gained attention at the CES by demoing the breezy Opera Mini for iPhone, which went on to become the first non-webkit based alternate browser for the iPhone. This year, the browser maker will be demoing its new browser tailor-made for Android based tablets and netbooks.

In 2011, tablets are a new must-have. Opera is creating waves with the first public preview of Opera for tablets,said Christen Krogh, Chief Development Officer, Opera Software. Opera for tablets brings the same trusted Internet experience to tablets and netbook PCs as users have come to love on their mobile phones and desktops.

Opera for tablets will be based on the yet to be unveiled Opera Mobile 10.5. As you can see in video embedded below, the user interface has been tweaked for bigger screens. Nevertheless, according to Haavard K. Moen, Opera for tablet will be supporting a wide range of form factors, and should be able to adapt itself to both small and large screen sizes. Little else is known about Opera for Tablet. However it will support flash, and should come with all the standard features of Opera Mobile like Opera Turbo, Opera Link (synchronization), speed dials, password manager and kinetic scrolling.

Chrome and Safari Steal Users from Internet Explorer

Based on the 2010 reports from, the web browsers from Google and Apple have slowly been stealing users from Microsoft’s Internet Explorer. In the chart below, we can see the trends over the last year. (chart by CNET)

This may be partly due to the new browser ballot in Windows 7 that is required in Europe. However, even if that’s true, Microsoft still has no excuse for it’s falling browser marketshare. When the beta version of IE9 was released in February, no affect was seen on the marketshare. We’ll have to wait to see what happens when the finished version is released.

The gains by Chrome and Safari came at the expense of Internet Explorer‘s dropping percentage, which ended the year at 57%, after starting above 60%. Google’s Chrome browser gained almost 5 points in 2010 and ended with 10% of the market. Safari gained about 1.5 points and ended at about 6%. Firefox and Opera remained about the same at 23% and 2%.

The question that we think most interesting is What browsers do Techie Buzz readers use?. Here’s a chart from Keith showing our data.

The Techie Buzz chart shows more readers using Firefox than Internet Explorer. Chrome users are in third place, followed by Safari and Opera. If we can assume that most technology sites have similar stats, this doesn’t look good for Microsoft.

It appears that the more people know, the less they use Internet Explorer. Many people feel that the crucial advantage to using Firefox and Chrome is that they are more easily customized by using Addons and Extensions. Do you think Opera’s adoption of extensions will help them steal share from Microsoft?

Opera’s Co-Founder on Extensions, Competition, Web TVs and More

2010 has been a great year for Opera Software. Earlier in the year, we saw Opera Mini for iPhone dominating the App Store charts soon after its release. Opera also expanded to the Android platform and launched Opera Mini followed by Opera Mobile in the Market. On the desktop front, Opera kicked off the year with the launch of Opera 10.5 and finished it off with Opera 11.

Opera Software was formally founded in 1995 by Jon Stephenson von Tetzchner and Geir Ivarsøy. After nearly 15 years at the helm, Tetzchner stepped down as the CEO of the company earlier this year. Recently, Tetzchner was in India to meet with the fans. During his visit, he was kind enough to answer my questions in an email interview.


Me: While I am absolutely thrilled with extensions for Opera 11, I have to ask: What took Opera so long? Did Chrome’s success influence Opera’s decision to implement extensions in anyway?

JVT: When it comes to extensions we believe as a company that it is important to ensure that the browser that you get out of the box is rich and has a lot of functionality. With focus on web based extensions we feel that there is a closer match with our focus on standards, and we felt the time was right to launch extensions with Opera 11. We have also focused on features such as widgets and unite – which allow developers to develop on the outside of the browser, which we have found to be important for sustainability of the web as we know it.

Me: Are you using any extension? If yes, what is your favorite extension?

JVT: Personally I am not using a lot of extensions, I have tried a number of them but for the most part I feel my needs are covered with all the other functionalities that Opera has to offer.

It has to be said that extensions are about the long tail that people need.

Me: In spite of being (arguably) the most innovative browser, Opera has had little success in expanding its desktop marketshare. Currently about fifty million people browse using Opera on their computer and this number has remained stagnant for a while. In fact, the Q3 2010 report suggests that Opera lost some users during this year. Why do you think that Opera is struggling to get a significant number of new users?

JVT: Opera during the last few years has had a significant growth in number of users. We now have over 150 million users worldwide across our desktop and mobile browsers. The growth in past one year is very promising and we hope to continue this trend by coming-up with innovative features and products.

Me: If you were asked to use any browser other than Opera for 24 hours, which browser would you pick and why?

JVT: There can only be one browser for me i.e. the Opera browser

Jon-Tetzchner Me: Do you subscribe to the notion that in the future the browser will make operating systems irrelevant?

JVT: I would not say irrelevant the operating system continues to be important.

I always ask a question during my talks how many native applications are you using on your PC?. The fact that typically 5% or less are using 5 applications or more indicates that already the browser is the most important tool on your computer and most of the time is spent in the browser. We are seeing that the browser has become the most important aspect of the computing experience.

Me: Earlier in the year, the browser ballot screen went live in Europe. After nine months, have you noticed appreciable changes in the browser usage patterns in Europe?

JVT: Clearly what we have seen is a continuous fall in the number of Internet Explorer users and users have increased for competing browsers including Opera.

Me: One of the things Opera complained about is Microsoft’s reluctance to support web standards. What is your impression of Internet Explorer 9? Do you think Microsoft has made amends?

JVT: We are seeing Microsoft working hard on improving their standards support and we applaud that. They are still trailing the competition but are moving in the right direction.

Me: In 2004, Opera extracted a settlement out of Microsoft for deliberately crippling MSN on Opera. Unfortunately, the practice persists till date with the big three (Google, Microsoft and Yahoo) often using browser sniffing to offer an inferior version of their products to Opera users. Why do you think this is the case?

JVT: First thing on the settlement there was no settlement. Microsoft fixed their site. This is where we had the Bork edition of Opera and we got them to fix their site.

I think browser sniffing is a bad thing in general. But we are also seeing that more of the sites are focusing on web standards and that will continue.

Me: Your vision of One Webhas won. WAP is dead, and mobile web usage is exploding. What’s next for mobile web?

JVT: Exploding some more.

I think in many ways there are so many people who do not have Internet access today. There are two billion people with internet access and there are one and half billion phones. The trend that we will see is that mobile users will most likely outnumber PC users in a year’s time. This will have a significant impact on the web as we know it and a very positive one.

Going ahead, please look out for Televisions, Set top boxes, cars and other devices getting online as well.

Me: The Register claimed that Opera holds the web’s most valuable secretthanks to its massive data cache (due to the combination of Opera Mini and Opera Turbo). Is Opera looking at ways to monetize this information?

JVT: We value our customer’s privacy extremely. So overstepping any kind of boundaries there is out of question.

We are clearly looking at ways where we can help enable relevant advertisement on the mobile through our purchase of AdMarvel. We announced the Open Mobile Ad Exchange and as part of that we can target people. But we don’t want to target anywhere not close to comfort. Typically the kind of targeting will be based on device type and location on a very broad scale.

Me: What is the Opera BreamUI mentioned during Capital Markets Day?

JVT: If you look at the different Opera versions on different phones you will see a lot of similarities. It’s because the user interface is written in the Bream language, allowing us very quickly to deploy Opera on new platforms.

This allows us to spend more time on making a great user experience and less time on actually develop specifically for one platform.

Me: Opera also has some interesting offerings for connected TVs. How is it different from the new Google TV? How has the reception been from the device manufacturers?

JVT: The response has been great. We have been signing up a lot of device manufacturers including brand names such a Philips, Toshiba, Lowe, etc. We are also working closely with the operators and are seeing significant increase in deployments. We believe that in the next few years internet technologies on television will become a big hit.

Me: Earlier in the year, you stepped down as the CEO of Opera. What prompted the change? As a co-founder what are your current responsibilities within the company?

JVT: I have run Opera for 15 years. I think it is important that for a great company you have to be able to handle change. Personally I wanted to focus more on the tasks that I like and slightly less on the tasks that I like less. So I decided that I wanted to have Lars, whom I trust, to take over the role as CEO.

Me: Soon after Lars Boilesen stepped in, Opera India was practically shut down, and the entire engineering department was axed. Even more surprisingly, the entire thing happened in a secretive manner without a public announcement. What went wrong?

JVT: The decision to close an office that and let people go is always a tough one.
At the same time, it is difficult to maintain and control a faraway office as it requires quite a lot of resources. The assessment from the team was that they wanted to reduce the complexity of operations that arrive from having multiple offices and they moved the work to development centers closer to Oslo.

Obviously it was not an easy decision to make.

Me: Were any other Opera Software offices downsized/closed?

JVT: The company is continuing to grow. For the India office, rationale was about moving this operation to Poland to reduce the complexity.
When it comes to others the rationale was that we are doing more standardized products and less custom work.

Me: What is your perception of India with respect to its engineering talent pool?

JVT: India certainly is a great resource of engineering talent. We have a number of Indians working in our global offices handling important portfolios.

Me: Opera Software is more than 15 years old. Looking back, is there anything that you wish you/Opera Software had done differently?

JVT: There are always choices. But I think it is important to not dwell on hindsight but still try to use the learning’s from the past while moving forward. And that’s what we’ve tried to do. All the choices we made that in hindsight we wished we had done differently try to rather use that as a positive impulse for moving forward.

Me: What does the coming year hold for Opera?

JVT: The goal for Opera has to be to continue the great growth that we have been seeing all around during the last couple of years. We have tripled our overall user base combining desktop, mini and mobile. In the beginning of 2009 we were 50 mn users and now we are 150 mn active users. So it is a significant growth, a growth that I believe is important to continue to have and even increase. To do this we need to focus on the end users, providing them with better user experience.

Focusing on improving the product for end users on different devices in different markets.

[Hat-tip to Choose Opera for the lovely Techie Jon image.]

Did You Know That Opera India Pretty Much Closed Shop Ten Months Back?

Did you know that Opera India pretty much closed shop ten months back? Neither did I, until a few weeks back. Apparently, back in March 2010, Opera fired almost all of its employees in India, and shut down the entire engineering division. Opera had opened its Chandigarh office in 2006 amidst much fanfare. In 2009, they even shifted to a swanky new office in Chandigarh’s IT Park. So, what went wrong?

We reported in January that Opera co-founder Jon von Tetzchner had stepped down as CEO to make way for Lars Boilesen. It appears that the new man in charge made all the difference. Opera had suffered surprise losses in Q3 2009, and their shares had shed a lot of value. Boilesen was obviously entrusted with the responsibility of getting Opera back in the black.

Opera India had just delivered the eBook Reader and Unite Media Player widgets, which are still among the most downloaded widgets. Opera 10.5 with widgets that could run as independent applications was released a day earlier. Even before employees could get their breath back, on March 3, Boilesen informed them that the entire engineering division will be shut down. From what I have managed to gather, the only explanation offered was that this was a part of the restructuring at Opera Software.

Of course, downsizing and restructuring are harsh realities of life for IT and Software companies. However, what surprises me is how silently Opera managed to pull this off. Neither was there any announcement, nor any media coverage. The restructuring has left Opera India with a handful of employees – Mrunmaiy Abroal, Shwetank Dixit and Hari G. All of them currently work from home. Sagar Chandna was called back to Norway.

Opera India Team

I tried reaching out to some ex-Opera India employees; however, (apparently) they are contracted not to speak about Opera in negative light. Nevertheless, you can glean more about what went on from their public blog posts. Check out the blog posts by Vishal Lahsiv, Amit Patil and Vivek Jisthu.

Speaking on the issue, Opera’s co-founder, Mr. Tetzchner said, “The decision to close an office that and let people go is always a tough one. At the same time, it is difficult to maintain and control a far away office as it requires quite a lot of resources.”

It’s disappointing that Opera chose to shut down their Indian engineering team. They had an immensely talented bunch, including four IITians. I wish that they had made better utilization of the talent pool available to them. However, it isn’t surprising, simply because Opera is a public company that has to answer to shareholders. At the same time, while it is always nice to have a formal announcement, companies aren’t required to announce workforce cutbacks, and they often don’t. From the anecdotes I have heard, the lack of knowledge also hurt the employees who were fired. Although, most of the employees have succeeded in finding new jobs for themselves, it was a big hurdle for them to convince potential employers about the closure of Opera India’s engineering department. With everyone from managers (Wolfgang Maehr) to testers axed, there wasn’t anyone to back them up. After all, major software firms shutting down in India is still a relatively rare phenomenon.

We moved ahead ! there was lots of hicupps after this, it was undoubtedly one of most hard faced part of life. It has been almost 8-9 months to the incidence but still feels like it was yesterday only. Opera being the first company of my career will always be cherished . This company taught me technology , “how to code”, and more over few essential lessons of life .

– Vishal Lahsiv

All said the india office was also not so very expensive to Opera India ´s pocket. Which is one of the more surprizing realities of closing down the India Operations. Everyone will find their way…move on…but the values that companies talk about…particularly values of one family openness etc. Well they all collapse when it comes to business decisions. In the brief sojourn working in Opera, i was satisfied with the work culture and the type of work. Perhaps thats the reason for some good team morale and productive output by end of the day.

– Amit Patil

Fix "View In iTunes" Link Not Working In Opera

Back in October, I had written a post about fixing an issue with the iTunes store in , where app store links or "View in iTunes" link did not open the iTunes app. The same problem existed in too and many users have been emailing and asking me about how to fix it for Opera.

Open iTunes Link in Opera

So as promised, here is a quick way to fix the "View in iTunes" link not working for the Opera browser, I have borrowed this trick from Pallab’s earlier post on using Google Instant in Opera.

Here are steps to fix this issue:

Change Opera Browser Identification

  1. First of all open any app in iTunes, you could click on this link to open the app in iTunes.
  2. Now right click on an empty spot on the page and select "Edit Site Preferences" from the context menu. Alternatively you could use the hotkey F12 and select it.
  3. Navigate to the "Network" tab and change the "Browser identification" option to "Mask as Firefox" from "Identify as Opera"
  4. Reload the page and you should now see a prompt to Open iTunes.

If the "Mask as " does not work, you can try out the other options available for Browser Identification.

Fed-up Of Jimmy Wales on Wikipedia? Here’s How To Get Rid Of Him

Wikipedia LogoWikipedia is no doubt one of the best resources for anyone looking to find more information about topics they are researching on. It is also the 5th largest site in the world, however, Wikipedia does not run ads and instead relies on donations from its users to run the huge database of articles it has.

At last count, Wikipedia has over 35 million articles in the English section and there are more documents in other languages too. That’s really good, however, in the past few months, users who visit the website are being shown a banner, which is an urgent appeal from Jimmy Wales, the Wikipedia founder on getting donations for the site.


Now showing this message is fine and many people including me have already donated to them. However, here is the problem, you will see this banner on every page you visit, no matter whether you have donated or not. This is making it quite annoying for users who have to visit Wikipedia everyday.

Are you fed-up too? Here are some ways to get rid of this Wikipedia message. On you can install the called Goodbye Jimmy Wales to get rid of this message. users can use the called Wikipedia Appeal Remover to get this done.

If you use or Internet Explorer, you can use a script to get rid of the Jimmy Wales Appeal, you will find the User scripts for the same here. Learn more on installing Greasemonkey scripts in Opera and IE.

Opera crosses One million Add-ons downloads in 4 days

Opera has just announced through their blog that there have been freaking one million opera add-ons downloads in just four days. That’s brilliant. Opera added add-ons to its browser since Opera 11 and that’s one of the best things happened to Opera, in my opinion.

The Incredible growth includes:
  • 1 million downloads in just 4 days.
  • 20-30 new or updated extensions uploaded each day.
  • Over 244 extensions now available!
Personally I have been keeping a close eye on the addons family since Opera 11 Beta and though the number of addons available aren’t that huge in numbers like that of Chrome browser but it has almost every add-ons  that I have been using on Chrome.

I use all the addons in the list above except for the “ Downloader”. Here are few add-ons I use that aren’t in the list above:

You can download Opera 11 to experiment with their add-ons.

Opera Launches Widgets Runtime for Android

Opera As we enter a new decade, web-apps are shaping up to challenge traditional system dependent applications. Google is possibly at the forefront of this change with its highly anticipated Chrome OS. However, several other players are keen to leverage the benefits offered by web apps. Back in October, Opera joined the Wholesale Applications Community, while Mozilla announced its new Open Web App platform. Now, Opera has released a preview build of its Widget runtime for Android, which is based on the Wholesale Applications Community (WAC) 1.0 specification.

WAC is an alliance of the world’s leading mobile operators and OEMs, such as Vodafone, Verizon, AT&T, Samsung, Huawei and others. Its fundamental aim is to promote the use of web technologies to enable developers to write an application which can execute on a web runtime upon multiple mobile device platforms. The benefit of using WAC specification is that the same widget will be able to run on multiple phones, irrespective of the underlying operating system. This makes things easier for both developers and publishers.

The Widgets runtime released by Opera allows you to download and run existing widgets from Opera’s widgets are platform independent, and already work on all popular desktop platforms including Windows, UNIX and Mac. With WAC Runtime, they will now run even on your mobile phones.

WAC 1.0 devices and storefronts are scheduled to launch at the Mobile World Congress 2011.

[ Download Opera Widgets Runtime for Android ]

Stop Auto-Refresh of Pages In Opera And Refresh Websites After Certain Time

After , is my secondary browser and I use it very frequently. I use Opera to visit websites and check on stats among other things. Now, many of the websites I visit are news sites which have auto-refresh turned on. Sometimes, this provides me with a bad experience since the page auto-refreshes while I am in the middle of reading an article.

On the other hand, I find it unproductive to reload stats pages every time I want to see new data. Thankfully Opera has a nice little which will allow you to stop auto-refresh on certain websites while allow you to refresh certain websites after a time-interval.


In order to stop a webpage from auto-refreshing, right click on that page and select "Never" from the "Reload Every" submenu. On the other hand, you can use the same menu to also auto-refresh certain webpages after a certain time interval.

This feature is pretty useful since it is built into the browser itself and does not require third-party extensions. Pretty neat and useful.

Further Reading: Auto-refreshing of webpages is done through a meta tag, you can read more about it here.