The San Jose Mercury News visits Opera’s unpretentious North American headquarters and reports that the Opera browser, little noticed in the United States, is experiencing significant gains in popularity elsewhere.
The story attempts to put the worldwide browser market into a worldwide perspective and is a worthwhile read for anyone interested in Browser Wars II:
As recently as 2003, Microsoft’s browser controlled well over 90 percent of the market. But if current trends continue, Internet Explorer could sink below 50 percent of the world’s desktop users as soon as this summer, data collected by the Web analytics firm StatCounter suggests. (A different firm, Netmarketshare, puts IE’s share higher, just below 60 percent of the world market, but also slipping.) While Opera is the most popular browser in parts of the former Soviet Union such as Uzbekistan and Belarus, Firefox is now tops in Germany and other European nations, and Chrome is gaining ground, particularly in big, fast-growing nations like India and Brazil.
“Think back to how things were five or six years ago, with one player, no competition, nobody pushing each other forward,” Firefox director Mike Beltzner said in a recent talk to the Firefox community in which Mozilla announced it would launch a new, faster browser, Firefox 4, later this year. “We’re now in a space that’s intensely competitive and all of it pushing each other forward.”
I use both Opera and Firefox regularly (primarily because certain poorly written websites do not render properly in Opera on my netbook, though they do render properly on my other computers).
I started using Opera about 10 years ago; I was working on the boating side of my personal website (which I really need to update) and started reading alt.html. The experienced HTML writers kept saying, “(use Opera),” because it was standards-compliant. I took their advice and I haven’t looked back.