Opera Strives for a Bigger Chuck of the American Market

By Natania Barron
Contributing Writer, [GAS]

We hear a lot about Internet Explorer, Firefox and Safari. And of course, there’s been recent buzz about Google’s Chrome. But few Americans outside web design and IT have ever heard about Opera, a browser that is far more popular globally than you might expect. In fact, Opera 10 released last week with over 10 million downloads.

And according to a recent BBC article, even Chrome has surpassed Opera in the US, after being on the market for little less than a year (some fun stats here). From the article:

In terms of pure numbers… Opera has 40 million users on desktops, 30 million on mobile phones and the rest on other devices like Nintendo Wii and DS gaming systems.

The article goes on to speculate that Americans, who are rather accustomed to the glitz and glamor of marketing, just haven’t gotten the message about Opera. But apparently it’s been around since 1994, which is practically ancient in internet years, and has survived where browsers like Netscape have not (or at least not directly.) I can’t recall ever seeing Opera advertised anywhere, so maybe that is part of it. Still, Firefox and Google aren’t huge direct advertisers, either.

I know I’m personally attached to Firefox, and the only time I used Opera–over a year ago–was to see if I could get it to mimic an older version of Internet Explorer to get around a particular site’s requirements (being a Mac user occasionally has its downsides… but if the downside is not being able to use IE, I’m okay with that). While I didn’t mind the browser, it certainly didn’t strike me as any more powerful or sleek as Firefox. I wasn’t blown away by it, but I wasn’t turned off either. It worked, it was pretty; still, I went back to Firefox.

But yet, clearly, millions of users around the world prefer Opera, so maybe I’m the one missing something.

Any Opera users out there who’d like to weigh in? Should I give Opera another chance?

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