"These go to eleven," says Spinal Tap's Nigel Tufnel as he describes the added capability of his guitar amps to go "one louder" than ten. I was reminded of the quote when I thought about Opera 10, which was released this week.Opera is Firefox, only without the open source or user base. It has some nifty functionality in the new release, like sensing slow connection speeds and automatically compressing pages, and it's faster than every browser other than Chrome (though the speed differential might as well be measured nanoseconds). The company behind it is a lesser-celebrated rags-to-riches story, replete with scruffy founders, miracle business moments, and all of it told in Norwegian.
Opera owns a solid 2% of the worldwide browser market, which isn't something to sneeze at, considering Safari has only 4% (and Chrome, though climbing, hasn't yet touched 3%). So are you excited about it? Have you installed it on all of your work and home machines?
There's the rub, I think. I can't cite the compelling need for Opera, which is a bit of a branding problem (and, thus, the major inhibitor to business growth). There are hints of what it could be: it was early into the mobile game, and the company is reported to be testing custom versions with at least one carrier. Yet I'd wager that the central brand attribute that gets most often attached to Opera is "other."
The product needs a purpose, so I wonder whether this isn't the time to start talking about some radical plans?
Maybe mobile could be the beginning of a bigger strategy to develop other places where consumers might need browsing, or some other finding activity accomplished, whether online or off. For instance, why not create a browser for appliances? Develop a strain that's exclusively configured for automotive use. How about a version that is the guaranteed best, most locked-up safe public browser, created to run on all those terminals that you just know are wired to steal your soul? Perhaps its PC statement could be some unique ability to protect and manage user identities, and empower shoppers to control the information they share/that gets collected on them?
It just seems like the big players have the time, money, and critical mass to duke it out for share of desktops. Maybe finding new devices, and thereby new relevance and utility, would be the way for Opera to get to 11.