The Problem With Opera

Opera 10.5I want to make it clear from the outset that I think Opera is great. I have it installed and use it regularly, but it’s never become my default browser.

Opera currently holds 2% of the worldwide desktop market. It’s never moved significantly beyond that figure despite a constant rate of innovations from the company. The market has grown so there are more Opera users, but newer browsers such as Chrome are growing at a considerably faster rate.

Marketing is one reason. Opera could never match Google’s advertising budget and the company is based in Norway so it has less impact on the massive US market. The name and logo are not as recognizable as other web brands either.

However, this has never hindered Opera in the mobile arena. That is a different market; there are fewer competitors and Nokia has helped by pre-installing the browser on its phones. But given Opera is so well entrenched on mobile devices, it’s a little surprising more people don’t use the desktop version.

Power = Pain?

In my opinion, Opera’s biggest strength is its downfall. It’s highly configurable and offers many options — possibly too many. It takes time and effort to get the best out of the browser.

Opera is also configurable in ways which you don’t see in other applications. Perhaps that’s innovative, but it can lead to confusion. I’ve been using the application for many years but I often have difficulty locating the option I need.

Opera screenFor example, version 10.5 hides the menu bar but it’s easy to show it (see screenshot). That’s great — but try and find the “Hide Menu Bar” option. It’s not in the “View” menu, Appearance or Preferences dialogs. Even the help doesn’t tell you that the option appears in the “File” menu?

That may be a minor esoteric quirk, but it’s an example of how the browser annoys new users. The Opera-specific terminology rarely helps either — how many people understand that the “Personal Bar” is a bookmarks toolbar or that “Opera Link” is a synchronization tool?

Opera is usable from day 1, but you need to invest time to learn what features are available, how they work, and how they can be configured. Few people are willing to climb the steep learning curve especially when competing browsers offer an easier and less disorientating experience.

Opera does appeal to a subset of power users, although I still prefer Firefox for ultimate customization. If Opera is ever to attract a large mainstream audience, the company should:

Address the confusing terminology
That may mean copying other vendor’s naming conventions, but it’ll provide an easier user migration path.

Remove lesser-used features from the basic browser
Facilities such as Unite, Notes, some toolbars, Dragonfly, mail and chat could all be switched off by default. They could still be provided as installation options or plugins.

Simplify the configuration options
“Show Menu Bar” should certainly be moved and all options should be logically arranged … why are toolbar settings in both Preferences and Appearances? Advanced options could be hidden, but a single tickbox could bring them all back.

Opera deserves a higher market share and the company has reported a 300% increase in downloads following the introduction of the EU browser choice screen (although this could be partly because existing users are downloading the new version). However, they haven’t revealed actual figures and I suspect they remain relatively low compared with Chrome and Firefox.

Should Opera change? Should it target a larger audience? How would you improve the browser?

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  • http://www.tyssendesign.com.au Tyssen

    I’ve been a long-time Opera user too but I’ll agree that some of the changes that Opera make (particularly with this latest release) make it seem like they’re being too clever for their own good and not communicating well enough about changes to previous users. When I installed 10.5 the thing that I hated the most was that on Windows 7 it created a separate taskbar preview for every tab I had open, much like Internet Explorer does (but Firefox and other don’t). Which meant that you couldn’t actually click on the icon in the taskbar to go to the application, you had to hover over the icon and then click on one of the tab previews that came up, so two actions when previously there had only been one.

    The thing is, this can actually be turned off by going into about:config, but I only found that out from a comment from another Opera user on their community blog. Seems to me that if you’re going to make a fundamental change like that, you should let people know about it and how to change it if they don’t like it.

  • Anonümaus

    i wholeheartedly agree with your post. opera is powerful and lightweight, however the menus are confusing and certain functions are hard to find. would not recommend to my grandmother.

  • Leon

    Opera’s useful in as much as it’s innovative; a lot of Firefox extensions will have first surfaced as Opera features. But any browser that takes so much customisation to overcome its somewhat quirky language and organisation is doomed from the start. Firefox’s architecture is just better: a simple, bare bones browser that can be extended however you like beats a browser with 2 or 3 features you use out of the 2000 avaialble.

  • stofke

    The one thing that keeps me away from Opera is the inability to export passwords. This makes it impossible to sync passwords between browsers/platforms.

    Being a webdeveloper I switch between browsers all the time, I can us LastPass to sync passwords between all major browsers except for Opera.

    Opera should open up more, it’s a good browser with lots of functionality usually ahead of the rest but stuff like that is irritating.

  • webaddictz

    I’m an Opera user, all the way. I adore the features it has, which include mouse-gestures (if you like to use your mouse), custom keybindings for keyboard browsing (yay), Opera Link for keeping my browsers everywhere in sync, but most of all: it’s amazing speed in rendering pages.

    Yes, Firefox has those features once you install enough plugins. Too bad for Firefox though, it makes the browser a heck of a lot slower, which is unacceptable for my standards. Chrome does an okay job, speed-wise perhaps even better than Opera, but that’s lacking features I’ve grown to love in Opera.

    I agree on the notion that Opera’s terminology is non-standard, but I don’t necessarily see that as a huge problem. Also, I don’t see hiding the functionality that makes Opera my personal favourite by default as a good thing: after all, you’ll want to use them anyway.

    If I could change anything I’d like about Opera, I would “create the buzz” like Firefox does, and I would probably change the terminology as well. But more than that, I’d open source it.

  • hm

    “Facilities such as Unite, Notes, some toolbars, Dragonfly, mail and chat could all be switched off by default. They could still be provided as installation options or plugins.”

    That’s the way it works today. Those features are all hidden/disabled by default. You can optionally activate them if you want to use them.

  • mandos

    in general I agree with your post, but for no reason should Opera remove some stuff and add it through the use of plugins!

    people that love opera and chose it as their primary browser (like me, and of course there are others) have done so because opera has all this power by default
    if some features are not for everybody then move them to some other menu, or provide an Advanced View like many programs do
    but the default opera installation shouldn’t have less bells and whisles :)

  • http://www.optimalworks.net/ Craig Buckler

    @hm

    Those features are all hidden/disabled by default.

    I agree that some are disabled, but most still show menu items and icons even if you never use them. It all adds to interface bloat and makes the browser look more complex than it need be.

    @mandos
    It doesn’t necessarily need to be downloadable plugins. An advanced option within the installer or perhaps an “extra features” panel in the settings could enable them.

    It could be easier than Firefox and more powerful than Chrome/Safari.

  • Spmorr02

    I think you are being particularly nitpicky about the hide menu bar location. I had no trouble at all locating it. That is because in essence it didn’t really move. The user is able to click in the same place that they found it the first time and it even appears around the same location on the screen.

    This is also helped by the fact that they didn’t change the name to “hide menu bar” but just show that you have ‘show menu bar’ checked.

  • http://www.vcarrer.com vladocar

    I tried to do a little experiment Opera 10.50 for one week. Feel free to join me in this adventure http://www.vcarrer.com/2010/03/initiative-opera-1050-for-one-week.html

  • http://www.optimalworks.net/ Craig Buckler

    @Spmorr02

    I think you are being particularly nitpicky about the hide menu bar … it didn’t really move.

    It is a minor example, but it’s just one of the weird options that’s off-putting to new users. Why isn’t it in the View menu like any other Windows application?

    I’d disagree it doesn’t move. “Show menu” is in the red ‘O’ icon drop-down. The icon disappears when the menu’s on. “File” is close to the location where the icon would appear, but that’s not a good reason to put it there!

  • WinkyWolla

    @Craig Buckler

    I agree that some are disabled, but most still show menu items and icons even if you never use them. It all adds to interface bloat and makes the browser look more complex than it need be.

    Where is this interface bloat you are referring to? How does it look more complex?

    I don’t see it.

    Especially with the new menu that replaces the menu bar, there is a distinct lack of clutter.

    It is a minor example, but it’s just one of the weird options that’s off-putting to new users. Why isn’t it in the View menu like any other Windows application?

    It’s a minor example indeed. Why would new users be put off? They probably won’t even enable the menu bar, especially since all other browsers have hidden it by default (Firefox will in the next version).

    In general, I find your comments are arguments to be rather unconvincing. Observe:

    In my opinion, Opera’s biggest strength is its downfall. It’s highly configurable and offers many options — possibly too many. It takes time and effort to get the best out of the browser.

    Why does it take more time and effort in Opera than in other browsers? At least with Opera it’s easy to enable those features that are hidden and out of the way by default. With Firefox and Chrome you need to install some random third party application to get functionality.

    By only criticizing Opera of this, you are not being consistent. If getting the best out of the browser hinders adoption, then surely Firefox wouldn’t be at 25% by now.

  • http://www.optimalworks.net/ Craig Buckler

    @WillyWonka
    If you’re a long-term Opera user, the interface and terminology won’t be a problem. But, to a new user, Opera appears more complex than any other browser.

    Some people will think Opera is perfect … but I suspect they only account for 2% of the market.

  • WinkyWolla

    Please show me how Opera appears more complex, and what terminology is supposed to confuse new users. I don’t buy the examples so far, for the reasons I and others have mentioned.

    The market share thing is a red herring. Opera doesn’t have Google’s online ad monopoly to promote the browser anyway. That ad monopoly was used to fuel Firfox’s growth in the past, and now Chrome (notice how Chrome is growing and Firefox declining?).

  • joezim007

    I hate the “Personal Bar”. It doesn’t work like a normal bookmarks bar. It isn’t even accessible from the bookmarks manager. You can’t add folders to it. It’s completely pointless as a bookmarks bar unless you only need a couple bookmarks. If it’s going to be like that then you should at least be able to put other buttons on it, which I can’t. Plus it’s above the address bar and tabs, which, other than the menu bar, is the only one up there. For all of it’s customization abilities, I still can’t customize it the way I’d like to.

  • Dude

    @joezim007

    I don’t understand what you mean with “You can’t add folders to it”. I have many folders in it. Dragged from the boomarks manager. Opera has the best bookmark and personal bar management I’ve seen.

    Also it is above the address bar. Why shouldn’t it be? It just makes sense.

  • stve

    Love the newest version of Opera the interface but i have to agree with Tyssen about the preview of the tabs from the taskbar the way it should work would be to show every separate Window with the latest tab for that window.
    I very much doubt Opera is any harder to learn than any other browser it is more powerful & with far more options for customization than other browsers but its easy enough with the default options I can’t see Chrome or Firefox being easier for anyone if you factor in the necessity of finding & installing the necessary extensions to make them usable.
    Perhaps it would make sense for every browser on installation to start with a help page open to explain things.
    I installed Chrome last night & it had me scratching my head & struggling to do some simple things.
    I hope Opera does not start changing things that aren’t broken just to look like other browsers.

  • stve

    @joezim007
    You can drag bookmark folders onto the Personal bar just drag & drop, it’s true you cannot add buttons to the Personal bar or menu bar but you can drag & drop buttons between all the other toolbars if you hold shift first, you can of course delete any button you don’t use from a toolbar just right click the offending button.If you want to move the personal bar or any toolbar to another location on screen just right click it customize/appearance
    & select its new location top bottom or left or right plus options to show image’s or text etc.
    Anyway no one forces you to have the personal bar open you can always add a couple of bookmarks to any of the other toolbars. The only unique thing with the Personel bar is you can add bookmark folders to it & you don’t have to hold the shift key down while dragging.

  • Anonymous

    Nah, I think Opera is for users who want exactly what they provide; Opera is a different complex flavor in itself, if you’re looking for vanilla use Chrome.

  • top

    As a long-time Opera user, I agree with most of your points.
    Yes, some terminology and config options may be confusing, they should rearrange that. By the way, I hate the fact they change the skin and the menu between Opera 10.10 and 10.50. The 10.10 skin was perfect, when it ain’t broken, you don’t fix it. They kept the same hideous in Opera 6, 7, 8 for several years and when they find the perfect skin, they change it after a few months…
    However, I think the main reasons Opera is so low in market share it’s :
    – they wait for too long before Opera became free. People don’t wanna pay for a browser, even if it was very cheap. When Firefox came, every IE6-disguted users switch to it instead of Opera.
    – they don’t have as much visibility as any other browser. IE is by default in windows (well until now, in Europe at least) and Safari in mac os. Chrome has the power of google and Mozilla was funded by AOL and had excellents relations with Google for a long time. There’s even a http://www.google.com/firefox page. Not for Opera despite google search engine is in Opera by default as well.
    However, I don’t agree with you on that point
    “Facilities such as Unite, Notes, some toolbars, Dragonfly, mail and chat could all be switched off by default. They could still be provided as installation options or plugins.”
    It’s a subject regularly discussed on the opera forums and the developers has made it clear that a change is very unlikely. It’s the policy of Opera to put “everything in one”. After all, if what we want is a simple browser with a customization possibility, we already have firefox. Opera is unique as it is and should remain unique.
    I gonna make a confession : when I made Opera my main browser, it took me several months to understand what the “notes” is for. Now, I can’t do without it.
    All theses options are disabled by default, it’s not a big problem to forget them, and it can be more useful that one might think. I never use the mail client, or IRC and stuff… And yet few days ago, I got the urge to visit the news://news.opera.com network. In a few click I was on the newsgroups. I read a few and disabled everything, back to normal. I would have piss me off to download and install some newsgroup client only for a few minutes. Thanks to Opera, I didn’t have to. It’s the same for Unite, I use temporarily and disable it when it’s not needed. Nothing to install, it’s cool.
    I prefer that way.

  • deusdiabolus

    I have two arguments with Opera that keep me from using it more often:

    1. The inability to left-click and drag a link to open it in a new tab. Yes, yes, I KNOW you can right-click and mouse down over a link to do this, but Opera is the ONLY BROWSER that does it that way. You can setup Firefox, Chrome, Maxthon and even IE to left-click and drag. Why would this be impossible in Opera?

    2. Lack of bookmarklet support. There are several sites that require the use of bookmarklets to add content to them (Wists, Polyvore) and their bookmarklets just don’t work in Opera. I can understand why this would take a while to resolve (it’s probably a specialized JavaScript issue)…but could I at least get item #1?

  • http://autisticcuckoo.net/ AutisticCuckoo

    Okay, so the summary is that the ‘problem’ with Opera is that it isn’t exactly like Firefox? It has too many features and uses different names for some things.

    Well, if you want a featureless basic browser and like the sport of hunting for weird extension to make it even remotely usable, why not stick to Firefox? Why should Opera destroy a good thing to make it resemble an inferior product just to make it easier for you to switch to something that would then be no better than Firefox?

    But of course you’re right about the terminology. No-one will guess that Opera Link is a way to link your Opera instances on different computers together. It’s not an intuitive name like Firebug for a developer’s tool …

  • WinkyWolla

    Opera is a different complex flavor in itself, if you’re looking for vanilla use Chrome.

    Not sure why you are sayng that, seing as Opera is “vanilla” by default.

  • WinkyWolla

    @top

    Excuse me? Your comment is highly illogical:

    Yes, some terminology and config options may be confusing, they should rearrange that.

    What terminology, and what options? Why is it that no one complaining about these things can ever seem to be specific?

    they wait for too long before Opera became free

    Yeah, but it has been free for a few years by now. Besides, what did you expect them to do? Dump all their revenue and go bankrupt? Unlike Mozilla, Microsoft and other browser vendors, Opera needed to make money from the actual browser to survive. They couldn’t make it free until they had an alternative source of revenue.

    It’s a subject regularly discussed on the opera forums and the developers has made it clear that a change is very unlikely. It’s the policy of Opera to put “everything in one”. After all, if what we want is a simple browser with a customization possibility, we already have firefox.

    What change? Unite, Notes, toolbars, Draginfly, mail and chat are all switched off by default already! Opera is already doing what the article suggests.

    Opera is just a simple browser by default.

  • Marcus

    As a long time Opera user I’ve read your review of Version 10.5 with great delight. I found your remarks fair and realistic, giving Opera the attention it deserves. Actually, I wondered, if Opera is of such a remarkable speed and appealing design, why in heaven’s sake doesn’t he use it as primary browser?

    Excuse me, but is your main point against Opera, that it is too customizable? If so, I haven’t heard any such ridicioulus claim! I’ve hardly ever seen such a clear and polished interface like that of Opera 10.5. Even Version 10.1 is very intuitive to say the least.

    When using Google Chrome I find the many options and menues hard to find, at least not easier than in Opera. And also when I have to look up hundreds of extension to make either Firefox or Google Chrome half as functional as the Norwegian original – that’s what I call confusing.

    In the end it always comes not to a final verdict about the product itself (which is surely on par with all the other vendors), but about some kind of ideology. Why should Google’s marketing power hinder me from using Opera? Why should someone refuse to use Opera, because it’s from Norway – at least he’s an North-American ignorant! Why bother about Opera’s possibilities like Unite, Turbo, E-Mail or so, if you don’t use it? It’s in no way obstrusive and takes no performing power from the core browser itself.

    On the contrary, when you find youself using the in-built e-mail client, Opera delivers, you’ll find Outlook, Thunderbird and all the likes overladen. I’ve never used any single e-mail client that is as easy, fast and useful as Opera Mail. And it is one of the main reasons for me to use Opera as a whole.

    What really really annoys me is not the fact, that someone might find some other browser more useful, faster or convenient, but when it comes to Opera that very often if not ever there’s a hole range of prejudices that is being said instead of fair reasoning. I had the hope, your comments were different.

  • http://www.tonymarston.net Tony Marston

    Opera for me is totally unusable as the client-side XSL transformations do not work. Visit http://www.radicore.org/demo/menu/logon.php?csxslt=on and you will NOT see the userID and password boxes. This means that nobody can logon.

    I reported this bug many versions ago, but the clowns STILL haven’t fixed it. At least it works in IE, Firefox and Safari. Now THOSE are browsers worth using.

  • http://www.optimalworks.net/ Craig Buckler

    @top
    You make some good points and, no – I don’t think Opera should necessarily implement a Firefox-like extensions system. That would just make it a Firefox clone with fewer plugins.

    It’s great that Opera offers so many facilities in a compact package. It makes a lot of sense on a low-powered PC such as a netbook. It’s memory footprint may be higher than other browsers, but you wouldn’t need to open many other applications.

    However, there’s no reason why a basic installation couldn’t hide some of the functionality. Much of it’s disabled by default, so why not remove the menus and icons too? A single button could link to a panel where the user could choose to enable mail, chat, torrents, Unite, etc.

    Another problem: is it my installation, or does the Widgets menu show no drop-down list? Yet the red ‘O’ icon shows “Get Widgets” and other options. It’s these inconsistencies which make Opera more confusing than it should be.

  • http://www.optimalworks.net/ Craig Buckler

    @Dude

    Also [the Personal Bar] is above the address bar. Why shouldn’t it be? It just makes sense.

    To me, this is another bizarre Opera irritation. The application lets you configure so much, but then implements strange restrictions. Why shouldn’t I be able to put the Personal Bar below the address bar? Rightly or wrongly, that’s where it appears in every other browser and I like it there! Besides, Opera allows other bars to appear below the address?

  • http://www.cemerson.co.uk Stormrider

    My main gripe with Opera is their PR. Their constant moaning about things Microsoft do, and picking out the tiniest flaws and getting the EU to act on silly things doesn’t do their reputation any favours IMO. A lot of the whining comes from their CTO, and it’s completely undeserved most of the time.

    Example: When MS stated that IE8 would follow standards, and that they would introduce a compatibility mode and meta tag for older sites – it’s a perfect solution to the problem of how to progress without breaking old sites, and yet Opera’s CTO still found things to complain about it.

  • http://www.optimalworks.net/ Craig Buckler

    @AutisticCuckoo

    Why should Opera destroy a good thing to make it resemble an inferior product just to make it easier for you to switch to something that would then be no better than Firefox?

    I don’t think anyone’s saying features should be removed, but they could do a lot to simplify the experience.

    Remember this is all about increasing Opera’s market share. Unlike most of its competitors, the browser can be quite daunting to new and novice users. Even power users can be confused by the options and inconsistencies.

    Well, if you want a featureless basic browser and like the sport of hunting for weird extension to make it even remotely usable, why not stick to Firefox?

    That’s what many people are doing – at the expense of Opera’s market share. The fact remains that the vast majority of Firefox users never install an extension: the basic browser offers everything they need. Opera could be more suitable to them but the range of features and options can make it overwhelming to those considering migration.

    No-one will guess that Opera Link is a way to link your Opera instances on different computers together. It’s not an intuitive name like Firebug for a developer’s tool.

    Come on – you’re saying “Opera Link” is more obvious than “Opera Sync” or even “Opera Bookmark Synchronization”? (Yes it does a few other things, but that’s its main job).

    Firebug is not supplied with Firefox. It’s only of use to a small number of web users and they need to manually install it. It didn’t really matter what they called it.

    Dragonfly is a less obvious name and it’s supplied to every Opera user whether they want it or not. That’s not necessarily a problem, but if they called it the “Opera Developer Console” and disabled it by default, it would be one less confusing term/option for new users to worry about.

    In summary, I can understand why people are passionate about Opera but, if it were perfect, more than 2% of people would use the browser. If the company’s happy with that figure, then there’s no reason to change a thing.

    However, if they want to grow market share, they need to appeal to the internet masses. I think that can be done without upsetting their existing (predominantly technically-skilled) user base.

  • http://icoland.com/ glenngould

    Renaming it to HipHop might attract younger generations :D

  • http://autisticcuckoo.net/ AutisticCuckoo

    Come on – you’re saying “Opera Link” is more obvious than “Opera Sync” or even “Opera Bookmark Synchronization”?

    No, I don’t. I’m just pointing out that everyone – not just Opera – has silly names for features. Or do you think that ‘Intelligent Bar’ or whatever Firefox calls it is an intuitive name? But for some reason it’s only allowed to complain about Opera. The name Dragonfly is probably a hat tip towards Firebug.

    I really don’t understand why you think Opera should disable all features not present in Firefox by default. The features are one of the main reasons to use Opera over Firefox. The problem isn’t that they are too visible and confusing; it’s the other way round: you don’t notice them unless you’re looking for them.

    That’s why people who decide to ‘try Opera for a week’ and similar usually end up going back to Firefox. They never discover all the extremely habit-forming stuff that Opera so discreetly provides. They think Opera is just like Firefox but without extensions.

    However, if they want to grow market share, they need to appeal to the internet masses.

    I honestly hope they never do, if it means becoming just a useless Firefox lookalike as you suggest.

    IKEA is very popular, but there’s still a market for regular furniture shops where you can buy stuff that’s already put together (by craftsmen). Similarly, if you like DIY you can use Firefox and juggle dozens of extensions to make it usable – or download Opera and get everything you need (and then some) in one neat package.

    More people will shop at IKEA and use Firefox, but quality furniture shops and Opera’s browser will still have their places and survive.

  • Stevie D

    @deusdiabolus:

    The inability to left-click and drag a link to open it in a new tab. Yes, yes, I KNOW you can right-click and mouse down over a link to do this, but Opera is the ONLY BROWSER that does it that way. You can setup Firefox, Chrome, Maxthon and even IE to left-click and drag. Why would this be impossible in Opera?

    As far as I know, Opera is the only browser that allows you to choose precisely how to follow a link:
    * Click = default action for the link
    * Shift+click or right-click + ‘Open in new tab’ = opens in new tab
    * Ctrl+shift+click or right-click + ‘Open in background tab’ = opens in background tab
    * Right-click + ‘Open’ = opens in current tab regardless of on-page instructions
    * Right-click + ‘Open in new/background window’ = does what it says on the tin
    * The (ctrl)+shift+click behaviour for new/background windows and tabs can be switched over if you prefer to open new windows to new tabs.

    It’s the right-click + ‘Open’ that I find invaluable, one of those features that sounds insignificant, but you very quickly learn to love being able to control exactly when to have pop-ups and when you just want to keep the one tab going.

  • http://www.optimalworks.net/ Craig Buckler

    @ArtisticCuckoo

    everyone has silly names for features. Or do you think that ‘Intelligent Bar’ or whatever Firefox calls it is an intuitive name?

    It’s the “awesome bar”, but that’s a very good example. Yes it’s crap, but it’s only Mozilla’s project name. You won’t find references to the term within Firefox because everyone else knows it as the “address bar”.

    I really don’t understand why you think Opera should disable all features not present in Firefox by default.

    It does already: many of Opera’s features are disabled in a fresh installation. I’m suggesting they go a little further and hide related menu options and icons too. You could then have a single icon/menu which opens an options panel where you can enable whatever features you need.

    Perhaps that won’t be any better? Perhaps people will hate it? It’s just one of my suggestions that could help users migrate from other browsers.

    you don’t notice them unless you’re looking for them … That’s why people who decide to ‘try Opera for a week’ usually end up going back to Firefox.

    If you’re saying Opera’s features are too well-hidden, that’s an even bigger problem for Opera to address! Here’s the thing though: it doesn’t take a week to ‘learn’ IE, Firefox, Chrome or Safari.

    I honestly hope they never do, if it means becoming just a useless Firefox lookalike as you suggest.

    I hope I haven’t suggested that. Opera deserves a larger market share and I’m providing ideas how they could make the browser appeal to the majority of web users and still keep existing users happy.

    As you can see from the comments above, several major web apps fail in the browser. Many users will abandon Opera if they can’t use GMail. I suspect the bug is Google’s fault, but they get away with it because few people care. Opera’s market share is reducing and companies will use that as justification for not testing the browser.

    Can the browser survive if the figures continue to slide? If you think Opera’s perfect then why aren’t people switching? Blaming marketing budgets or user intelligence won’t fix the problem.

  • Hector Macias Ayala

    Ive never understood how come people find panels “bloated”. Theyre hidden by default, deafult setup is just as lightweighted as chrome. Turn mail off? are you serious? if just dont config any mail account nothing happens, altought its quite useful, I use it and manage 4 mail accounts and more than 2000 mails with it.

    I hope we stay as a small base forever, keeps innovation going and I dont want Opera to be like others, thats stupid to think all the browsers should be the same.

  • http://autisticcuckoo.net/ AutisticCuckoo

    Here’s the thing though: it doesn’t take a week to ‘learn’ IE, Firefox, Chrome or Safari.

    Of course not. They don’t have many features to discover. Will you learn Firefox + 150 extensions in a week though? That’s what you need (I’m told) to get the same features as a bare-bones Opera installation.

    As you can see from the comments above, several major web apps fail in the browser.

    I’ve yet to see a case where this happens because of an Opera bug. It’s usually either because the ‘app’ in question deliberately tries to block Opera or send it broken content, or because it’s using something non-standard or relying on buggy or undocumented behaviour in IE or Firefox. Yet people blame Opera, which I find unfair.

    Can the browser survive if the figures continue to slide?

    Slide? All the reports I’ve seen show that Opera’s market share (for desktops) is growing. Slowly, yes, but still.

  • Jake Brown

    I think they missed the bus by not being the counterpoint to IE domination after Netscape lost and Firefox was still to come to the fore. Technically they were the most innovative for a long time and still are in some ways.

    The ad based version and the paid version actually stalled their growth.

    I still am a fan but in my daily use, it comes after FF and before IE.

  • Top

    @ Willywonka

    “they wait for too long before Opera became free

    Yeah, but it has been free for a few years by now.”
    Do you know what “too long” means ? It doesn’t matter that it has been free for years, too late it’s too late. The markets share figures won’t change a lot in the next years : Firefox will be around 20/30%; IE will have the majority; the other browsers will remains around 5%. I bet everything you want that Chrome, despite all the money they have, will never take the place of Firefox, because it’s too late for them too. Their market share will increase, but they’ll never be secund browser.

    “Besides, what did you expect them to do? Dump all their revenue and go bankrupt? Unlike Mozilla, Microsoft and other browser vendors, Opera needed to make money from the actual browser to survive. They couldn’t make it free until they had an alternative source of revenue.”
    I don’t know if they could have done it before or not and neither do you but that’s not the point. I’m saying that if Opera had been free from day one, it would be have a much bigger user rate than now. And it would probably be the secund browser. I’m not saying it’s their fault, I’m not saying they should have done, I’m saying it’s the main reason why Opera, after all these year is so unpopular. Not because of its features, or its flaws – every browsers have; but because of the conjuncture.

    “Unite, Notes, toolbars, Draginfly, mail and chat are all switched off by default already!”
    That’s exactly what I’ve said, you don’t pay attention.
    “Opera is already doing what the article suggests.”
    No, the features are not provided as installation options or plugins, like the article suggests. Everything is installed at once.
    “Opera is just a simple browser by default.”
    Wrong, it’s an internet suite, not a browser.

  • WinkyWolla

    @Craig Buckler, you are really starting to make confusing claims:

    It’s memory footprint may be higher than other browsers, but you wouldn’t need to open many other applications.

    Actually, if you look realistically at it, Opera’s memory footprint is adapted to the system it’s running on. If you have loads of RAM, it will use more to increase performance. If it’s a netbook with hardly any RAM at all, Opera will run fine there.

    However, there’s no reason why a basic installation couldn’t hide some of the functionality.

    Sorry, but you keep repeating this false claim. The functionality is hidden by default.

    Much of it’s disabled by default, so why not remove the menus and icons too?

    Because that is pointless. Those icons are not getting in the way of your day to day browsing. You might as well demand that Firefox removes all menus and dialogs related to installing and handling extensions!

    Another problem: is it my installation, or does the Widgets menu show no drop-down list? Yet the red ‘O’ icon shows “Get Widgets” and other options. It’s these inconsistencies which make Opera more confusing than it should be.

    What are you talking about? The “Widgets” menu in both menus shows the exact same thing.

    Still waiting for those serious things that would be oh-so confusing for newbies..

  • WinkyWolla

    @Craig Buckler

    To me, this is another bizarre Opera irritation. The application lets you configure so much, but then implements strange restrictions. Why shouldn’t I be able to put the Personal Bar below the address bar? Rightly or wrongly, that’s where it appears in every other browser and I like it there! Besides, Opera allows other bars to appear below the address?

    Ok, so when Opera offers a lot of customizability, that is bad. But it is also bad when it doesn’t offer enough! Do you understand now why I keep calling you out on self-contradictory claims?

  • stve

    @ Stormrider
    “My main gripe with Opera is their PR. Their constant moaning about things Microsoft do, and picking out the tiniest flaws and getting the EU to act on silly things doesn’t do their reputation any favours IMO. A lot of the whining comes from their CTO, and it’s completely undeserved most of the time.

    Example: When MS stated that IE8 would follow standards, and that they would introduce a compatibility mode and meta tag for older sites – it’s a perfect solution to the problem of how to progress without breaking old sites, and yet Opera’s CTO still found things to complain about it.”

    My first PC 1990 had Dr Dos installed it was widely regarded as superior to Microsoft’s MS Dos but Microsoft introduced code into it’s word program designed to stop it working with Dr Dos
    the same happened with Windows 3.1 see

    http://www.theregister.co.uk/1999/11/05/how_ms_played_the_incompatibility/

    so Dr Dos went the way of the Dodo eventually Microsoft was dragged into the courts and Dr Dos was awarded around $40 million dollars but as Bill Gates was a Billionaire by then it was obviously good business practice to abuse a monopoly.
    What worked with Dr Dos was applied to the Browser market write buggy code for IE that trips up other browsers if people wanted to view your site you had to make sure it could be viewed in IE. It is only the last couple of years Microsoft has started to play fair in the browser market but it’s always looking for any advantage it can get.

  • WinkyWolla

    @Stormrider

    My main gripe with Opera is their PR. Their constant moaning about things Microsoft do, and picking out the tiniest flaws and getting the EU to act on silly things doesn’t do their reputation any favours IMO.

    Opera can’t get the EU to act on anything. All Opera did was to report Microsoft’s crimes to the EC. Beyond that, Opera had no authority what so ever to do anything, so all the comments you saw from Opera was Opera answering direct questions from journalists.
    Are you saying that they should have refused to answer questions from journalists? Talk about crappy PR! Remind me never to hire you for a PR position.

    What’s interesting is that you aren’t even mentioning Mozilla in all of this. They actually blogged a lot, complaining about all sorts of things related to the Microsoft case. But when Mozilla writes lots of stuff in its official blog that’s fine, while when Opera answers questions from journalists, that’s “constant moaning”. Nice double standards.

    Example: When MS stated that IE8 would follow standards, and that they would introduce a compatibility mode and meta tag for older sites – it’s a perfect solution to the problem of how to progress without breaking old sites, and yet Opera’s CTO still found things to complain about it.

    Give me a break. The justified criticism about this stupid proposal by Microsoft was all over the web. Mozilla blogged about it as well. Singling out Opera here only shows that you have some kind of agenda. Why is it OK when Mozilla blogs constantly about something, but not when Opera dares to comment on something?

    Face it, Microsoft’s proposal sucked. They were called out on it, and retracted it.

    And you are moaning about Opera? Christ.

  • stve

    @ Marcus
    http://www.radicore.org/demo/menu/logon.php?csxslt=on
    It’s true the link does not open properly in Opera so i right click on the page & use the very handy open with option Opera provides & open it in IE 8 & guess what happens
    The XML page cannot be displayed
    Cannot view XML input using XSL style sheet. Please correct the error and then click the Refresh button, or try again later.

    ——————————————————————————–

    Access is denied. Error processing resource ‘https:///~radicore/demo/xsl/std.detail1.xsl’.

    at least i get to see it’s a login screen with Opera
    I then opened it with Safari & this time it opens properly & allows you to log in.
    My take is that if a page is using code that won’t allow over 50% of Internet users to open it properly it’s not Opera’s problem it’s the sites.

    @ Craig Buckler why on Earth do you expect Opera to hide options in the menus if you don’t use them why is it a problem for you. Opera is a far more capable browser out of the box than the other browsers so why should it pretend to be Chrome or Firefox. It’s much harder for a Opera user on Firefox or Chrome as you are left scratching your head, is an option buried in the menus or are you expected to go hunting extensions & maybe there are several extensions for the same job which one do you pick.
    Say you are a Firefox user how long did it take you to learn the interface & find & download all the extensions you needed to transform it into the ideal browser for you?
    With Opera there are plenty of help pages & you can always Google for extra help, you expect a new user to go on Opera & be able to do everything the browser is capable off without investing some time to learn it.
    With screwed logic like that i wonder what your opinion of Adobe Photoshop is.

    @ Craig Buckler
    “Also [the Personal Bar] is above the address bar. Why shouldn’t it be? It just makes sense.”

    “To me, this is another bizarre Opera irritation. The application lets you configure so much, but then implements strange restrictions. Why shouldn’t I be able to put the Personal Bar below the address bar? Rightly or wrongly, that’s where it appears in every other browser and I like it there! Besides, Opera allows other bars to appear below the address?”

    You can put the Personal bar below the address bar it’s true you can’t have both on the top of the screen with the PB on top but i have the PB on the bottom of the screen with the address bar immediately above.
    With Opera you can shift drag a tab (bookmark) to any toolbar with the exception of the menubar you can even shift drag a tab to the ends of the tab bar.
    You can Google custom buttons & find one to toggle the Personal Bar or any other toolbar on or off & then put that button on any of your toolbars apart from the menu bar.
    How about shift dragging that PB button to the start bar that shows when you click on the address bar.
    Does Firefox Chrome or Safari allow you any options with toolbar positioning ?.
    Why jump on Opera when the interface is the easiest to customize why aren’t you jumping all over Chrome or Firefox for not being able to do what Opera can.

  • WinkyWolla

    @Top

    “Opera is already doing what the article suggests.” – No, the features are not provided as installation options or plugins, like the article suggests. Everything is installed at once.

    You are missing the point. Opera is already doing what the article suggests without having to remove features. It does so by hiding and disabling all sorts of stuff by default. It doesn’t matter how you get those things, whether it’s by installing third party extensions or activating them in the application itself.

    “Opera is just a simple browser by default.” – Wrong, it’s an internet suite, not a browser.

    But it appears like just a browser by default. All those additional features are hidden and disabled.

  • WinkyWolla

    @Craig Buckler

    I don’t think anyone’s saying features should be removed, but they could do a lot to simplify the experience.

    They already did that. All those additional features are now hidden by default.

    Remember this is all about increasing Opera’s market share. Unlike most of its competitors, the browser can be quite daunting to new and novice users. Even power users can be confused by the options and inconsistencies.

    You have failed to show these inconsistencies. And you have failed to show how Opera would be more “daunting” than any other browser.

    Come on – you’re saying “Opera Link” is more obvious than “Opera Sync” or even “Opera Bookmark Synchronization”? (Yes it does a few other things, but that’s its main job).

    So “Weave” is obvious?

    Dragonfly is a less obvious name and it’s supplied to every Opera user whether they want it or not. That’s not necessarily a problem, but if they called it the “Opera Developer Console” and disabled it by default, it would be one less confusing term/option for new users to worry about.

    Dragonfly is hidden under a “Developer” sub-menu. Web developers who want a dev tool in Opera will know that it’s called Dragonfly because if they know that Dragonfly exists, they will know the name from the same place they found out it exists. Non-issue. And besides, these people are not newbies. Way to change your claims…

    In summary, I can understand why people are passionate about Opera but, if it were perfect, more than 2% of people would use the browser.

    This is a fallacy. You are assuming that quality automatically equals market share. This is not necessarily the case.

    Here’s the thing though: it doesn’t take a week to ‘learn’ IE, Firefox, Chrome or Safari.

    It doesn’t take a week to learn Opera either. It might take a week to discover all those additional features that are so well hidden, though! Just like it would take ages to find all those useful extensions for Firefox. So you are comparing apples and oranges

    Opera’s market share is reducing

    Can the browser survive if the figures continue to slide? If you think Opera’s perfect then why aren’t people switching?

    This is false. First of all, Opera’s market share has been slowly but steadily climing over time. It might go up and down if you look at it from week to week or month to month, but if you look at the trend, it’s definitely growing.

    But more importantly: Opera’s user base is not shrinking. In fact, i has consistently more than doubled every two years or so. Quite a few people must be switching to Opera since it’s growing fairly rapidly! Opera has about 50 million desktop users. Mozilla claims that they have something like 200 or 300 million users for Firefox. And that’s with help from Google’s advertising monopoly. Opera had to do all that on their own, and did so in about four years, which is how long it has been without ads.

  • WinkyWolla

    Oops, sorry for all the comments. I guess I should have limited it to one or two at a time.

  • stve

    @Craig Buckler “Can the browser survive if the figures continue to slide? If you think Opera’s perfect then why aren’t people switching? Blaming marketing budgets or user intelligence won’t fix the problem.”

    Approximately 100 million mobile phones have shipped with Opera pre-installed. Opera is the only commercial web browser available for the Nintendo DS and Wii gaming systems. Some television set-top boxes use Opera. Adobe Systems has licensed Opera technology for use in the Adobe Creative Suite
    source http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Opera_(web_browser)

    Global Trends
    In December 2009, more than 46.3 million people used Opera Mini, an 11% increase from November 2009 and more than 159% compared to December 2008.
    Those 46.3 million people viewed more than 20.7 billion pages in December 2009. Since November, page views have gone up 10.1%. Since December 2008, page views have increased 223%.
    Opera Mini users generated over 315 million megabytes (MB) of data for operators worldwide in December 2009. Since November, the data consumed went up by 10.5%. Data in Opera Mini is compressed up to 90%. If this data were uncompressed, Opera Mini users would have viewed over 2.9 petabytes (PB) of data in December. Since December 2008, data traffic is up 206%.
    The top 10 countries ranked by number of Opera Mini users are (in order): Russia, Indonesia, India, Ukraine, China, South Africa, United States, Vietnam, Nigeria, and United Kingdom. This month Ukraine overtook China, Vietnam continues its ascent (at the expense of the United Kingdom) and Nigeria is back on the list after a 3-month absence, pushing Poland out of the top 10 for the first time.
    Source is http://www.opera.com/press/releases/2010/01/26/

    Nintendo DSi browser

    Nintendo DSi browser is a full Web browser based on the same core engine as the renowned Opera desktop browser. Opera’s browser for Nintendo DSi provides a customized Web experience, allowing users to access all their favorite Web sites with the efficiency of touch-screen browsing.
    source

    So add all the users of Opera mobile ,Opera mini,Nintendo DSI & Wii to the 2% of Windows desktop users & the small Norwegian Opera browser is doing OK.
    Personally i think because Opera caches all the history of the tabs & when you go back or forwards it reloads the page from cache other browsers reload the page & this inflates their usage statistics & also slows them down.

    I guess the Microsoft ballot is going to lead to a higher take up of Opera now it is for the time being the fastest browser , (It’s always felt the fastest to because of the way it caches tabs)

    I guess the About.com browser ballot for 2010 is going to help Opera
    http://browsers.about.com/od/allaboutwebbrowsers/ss/2010-readers-choice-awards-web-browsers-winners.htm
    over 50,000 votes in all categories & Opera with version 10.1 wins best Desktop browser
    Opera 10.x – 51% (13,234 votes)
    Firefox 3.5/3.6 – 41% (10,710 votes)
    Chrome – 4% (1,266 votes)
    Internet Explorer 8 – 1% (447 votes)
    Safari 4.x – 0% (234 votes)

    In the Mobile category Opera Mini wins with 37% of the vote, Opera Mobile is second with 28% & skyfire is third with 22% of the vote.
    My take is that there are more than enough users who appreciate the powerful features of Opera & are willing to spend a couple of hours getting to grips with it. Remember the Internet is not just the USA or Europe it’s the World Wide Web & that includes countless countries where low bandwidth is the norm (Opera Turbo) using old PC’s Opera has always been very good at scaling itself to the resources available.It includes the sight impaired (Opera B&W or W&B high contrast modes & Opera voice)

    Why doesn’t Opera have more users probably the same reason Internet Explorer has more than 50% of the browser market.
    Whatever that reason is I’d like to know as well.

  • http://www.optimalworks.net/ Craig Buckler

    Wow. At least Opera users are more passionate about their browser than any other browser groups!

    As for Opera’s usage, let’s look at some statistics:
    http://gs.statcounter.com/
    http://gs.statcounter.com/#browser-eu-monthly-200902-201003

    Opera’s users may have increased, but it appears to be losing market share, especially in Europe. Companies are ignoring the browser and that’s worrying.

    The fact remains that Opera appeals to comparatively few people. Accusing them of ignorance or dismissing their opinions will not help. No application is perfect, so what would you do to improve it?

    I’ll ask again: Opera’s one of the best browser’s available so why isn’t it more popular? Marketing and Microsoft domination aren’t the only issues — Firefox achieved early success without advertising and Opera’s been around far longer. Looking at the statistics, Chrome appears to be the main cause of Opera’s market slide. Why?

  • http://stommepoes.nl Stomme poes

    “It is a minor example, but it’s just one of the weird options that’s off-putting to new users. Why isn’t it in the View menu like any other Windows application?”

    Mozilla? or the W3C? actually has a document about this, specifically about where certain things should go on browsers. I remember reading about “preferences” being under Edit in some browsers and under Tools in others and how there was some concerted effort to make them the same. This is an excellent idea, screw free speech in this case.

    Why I don’t use Opera as browser #1 or #2 (it used to be #2 but then I got Chrome for Linux): Because I’m too stupid to remember the special key combinations to test my pages with the keyboard (people can b*tch all they want about how easy and simple and moron-proof something is, <b>but if it breaks user expectations</b> then it’s not going to be intuitive), even though the keyboard navigation is BETTER than using TAB (and when using JS-manipulated CSS to hide/show stuff, Opera is the only browser who properly keyboards though the visible stuff, not the display: none stuff).
    I hate Firefox, have zero love for it, but it’s my #1 browser.
    FF is my “safe retarded” browser. It has everything off unless I turn it on: scripts, images, even CSS. NoScript is the killer app here, because it allows me to selectively allow the necessary scripts to use my web mail while still blocking the scripts coming from another domain to serve speed-crushing ads and malware. Clickjacking? Bah, I sleep at night.
    Chrome is my “let’s play with fire” browser: it has everything on and zero special options. It’s my browser for dummies. If I need to block scripts or enlarge text or do anything work-related, I don’t use it. Chrome doesn’t even have a report button in Linux. Who was sleeping at the wheel? So, the times where I must go to that travesty of coding known as Facebook, I use Chrome. It doesn’t cover up ALL their mistakes, but mostly makes the site usable.

    I turn on Dragonfly and nothing happens. I can’t click on anything. Everything’s greyed out and I’ve followed instructions I’ve found floating around the interwebs. I broke it somehow. I move on.
    Now I’ve never bothered reading the instructions for Firebug, mostly because I don’t use more than 2% of it, but see, I could bungle my way through it. If I could bungle my way through Dragonfly that would be great. So, add some bungle-ability-ness? Despiter being a web developer, I’m the biggest browser moron. I don’t know how anything works, like 99% if the users I’m building sites for.

    So, to make Opera the default browser for <b>morons like me</b> it needs a few things:
    #1. Something like NoScript, I don’t care if it’s built-in. Let me choose WHICH domain sends its filthy scripts my way and for how long. All-or-nothing is not good enough in this day of multi-domain scripts,, clickjacking, half necessary and half bloataceous speed-stealers meant to grind my browser down to a halt with ScriptaProtoMooQueryLicious-ness (add large derogatory eye-rolling troll here). Yes, this would be ideal to have on ALL browsers…
    #2. Have some mode where Tab acts like Tab in the rest of the universe (even if it’s not default… offer SIMPLE instructions, we can follow them). People who use Opera for the spatial keyboarding can still have it, while the rest of us morons can tab ourselves into oblivion (instead of only through forms). My CSS tooltips don’t even appear for Opera users if they decide to switch to using tab for going through my form. Their loss, I’m not going to find some freaky Opera-only way when my technique is use across the web and works in every other browser (including Lynx for chrissake).
    #3. Give me some clue what I’m doing wrong when some special whatsit doesn’t work the way everywhere on the web says it should. I can follow simple instructions, but lazy users won’t read a book about it.
    #4. Let me enlarge the text without enlarging all the images and everything else?? Another reason I prefer FF is (for now) it still allows me to choose Text Only. I hate zoom. Death to zoom.
    #5. Maybe TRY to follow the Principle of Least Surprise?? Oh look at this awesome car, runs on pure sunshine but it has the shifter sticking out of the left side of the steering column! Yes, that’s very nifty, but not intuitive in a world where it sits traditionally between the seats. On the other hand, Opera may be aware of this and are betting that the better features, even if a little strange, are more appealing to current Opera users and aren’t worth losing to get current FF/Chrome users.

    I don’t expect Opera to take out the stuff like Unite and Links, because Opera is principally opposite of Firefox here: Firefox used to be the fastest most secure browser around, but now it’s bloat city. Opera just has the stuff built in. That’s an advatage, so don’t expect them to lose it. Unite and Turbo and all that other crap I don’t use NEVER gets in my way, as a browser moron. I actually don’t even know where most of that stuff is in Opera.

    Beyond that, let’s note that Opera is damn near 40% usage in Russia and former Soviet states. As companies move into those areas, if they haven’t been testing for Opera then they’d better start. If something doesn’t work in Opera in Russia you’re losing significant customers (we recently found something in Opera not working in some Javascript that worked for every other browser… found by the Russian customer : ).

    And, Opera is pretty huge on mobiles in SouthEast Asia, so if you’re targetting markets there…

  • http://autisticcuckoo.net/ AutisticCuckoo

    I think there are several reasons.

    The fact that Opera isn’t 100% conforming to the terminology and UI design of its competition may play some part, as you say. At least it will be an impediment to changing browsers for those who don’t want to have to make the slightest effort.

    Marketing is definitely one reason. Opera isn’t very good at it, and the competition seems to have far greater marketing budgets.

    Opera’s PR department also leaves a lot to be desired. Opera’s fight for web standards (or against Microsoft, depending on whom you’re rooting for) has definitely damaged their reputation. As has been seen in this thread, Opera is held accountable for decisions made by the European Union’s parliament! It doesn’t matter that the blame is unfair – people remember that there was some sort of negative connotation with the name; not necessarily what it was or whether or not it was deserved.

    Opera is also often blamed for not working with various popular sites, even though it is almost always those sites that actively try to block Opera. Usually not because there’s any problem, but because they can’t be bothered to test in one more browser.

    As I’ve said, I also believe that Opera is a bit too discrete about its features. They don’t stand out the way they should, so they don’t catch the attention of a casual user trying it out. So they leave, unimpressed, believing it’s just another featureless browser like Firefox or Chrome, only looking weirder.

    And I do believe that articles such as this one also contribute, in some small way. I saw a blog post somewhere the other day which was also titled ‘The problem with Opera’, but all it showed was the author’s inability to overcome his preconceived notions and prejudice against anything that wasn’t Firefox.

    People remember seeing the name Opera in conjunction with negative connotations like ‘problem’ or ‘issue’ or ‘unsupported’, so they prefer to stick with their current browser just in case.

    Then it’s a Catch-22 thing, as well. Opera’s market share isn’t big enough, so ignorant and lazy designers/developers don’t test for it. If that causes the site not to work properly in Opera, it might scare off more users, and so on, in a vicious circle.

  • Stevie D

    @Craig Buckler

    Firefox achieved early success without advertising

    Maybe not so much “advertising”, but they certainly did a lot of marketing, they built a lot of hype. Looking at Google News across 2004 and 2005, there are over 15,000 results for “firefox browser”, but only 6,000 for “opera browser”.

    Firefox was big news at the time, and Mozilla have made sure it’s been big news ever since. That’s partly because the company hyped it up to the media, partly because it built on the foundations of Netscape (which a lot of people had used previously), and partly because it was seen as a big thing to launch a new browser to defeat the shortcomings of MSIE. Opera didn’t have that advantage of being the marketable underdog, because they’d been going for years, so couldn’t have the same impact.

  • http://www.optimalworks.net/ Craig Buckler

    There’s definitely a combination of reasons for Opera’s relatively low uptake. But if you look at the statistics in Europe, there’s a fairly clear migration toward Chrome. Google are pushing it hard, but why would people shift from a superior browser?

    As for articles like this contributing to Opera’s woes, I have several issues:

    1. SitePoint does not interest the majority of non-technical web users. The masses aren’t reading this article.

    2. If articles made a significant difference, why does IE continue to be the most-used browser on the planet?

    3. I had hoped this and my previous article showed Opera in a (mostly) positive light and encouraged people to try it.

    Good though it is, it’s my opinion that Opera has several flaws and inconsistencies which can make it confusing — especially for new users. Your opinion may differ, but don’t dismiss feedback — any suggestion for improving the browser should be welcomed.

    It’s great Opera users are passionate about the product. However, there’s a slightly patronising undercurrent of thought that anyone criticising Opera is wrong, stupid, or over-familiar with an inferior browser. It’s not productive and you rarely see that attitude in the Microsoft, Mozilla and Google camps.

    No browser is perfect, but rather than discussing how Opera could be improved, there’s a tendency to point out flaws in suggestions, other companies, or other browsers. That’s easy — it’s much harder to come up with your own ideas.

  • http://www.optimalworks.net/ Craig Buckler

    @Stevie D
    If you remember the late 90’s/early 2000’s, the Mozilla Suite and Netscape 5+ where shockingly awful. The browsers were a joke and no one used them. Phoenix/Firebird was an experimental project which became popular because the development community liked it and spread the word. Mozilla capitalised on that, but the hype started well before the organisation’s Firefox 1.0 campaign.

    Opera deserved more attention but, at that time, it still cost money and Microsoft had already killed the commercial browser market.

    But this is all history and it’s futile to consider what could have been. What can Opera do to improve the browser and its marketing now? That’s the real issue.

  • http://autisticcuckoo.net/ AutisticCuckoo

    However, there’s a slightly patronising undercurrent of thought that anyone criticising Opera is wrong, stupid, or over-familiar with an inferior browser.

    I think it’s more a case of exasperation and bafflement when Opera critics state that Opera’s UI is confusing or difficult. Perhaps those of us who have used Opera for years have become blind to those problems. Or perhaps the critics are unwilling to accept any solution that isn’t close enough to what they are already used to. I don’t know.

    Most of the criticism against Opera – mainly from the Firefox users’ community – has been very vague, in my opinion. In several threads here at SitePoint Forums people have stated that there is something about Opera that makes them reluctant to change.

    Your article brings up a number of concrete issues that you consider to be problems with Opera. That’s good, because concrete issues and constructive criticism can help Opera’s developers, whereas the intangible feelings of wrongness are harder for them to address.

    As an Opera user I often encounter a patronising, or even condescending, attitude towards my favourite browser. Members here at SitePoint Forums say they don’t bother to test in Opera, or reject Opera out of hand because it isn’t open source or doesn’t support the same type of extensions as Firefox. Even though they’ve never looked at – or even downloaded – the source code for Firefox, and even though Opera can already do all the stuff they need extensions for.

    They probably don’t mean to be patronising or condescending. And I know I don’t. I think it’s just easy to get upset in discussions that are based more on emotions and opinions than on facts.

  • http://www.optimalworks.net/ Craig Buckler

    @ArtisticCuckoo
    All good points.

    There is a tendency for people to dismiss Opera because they don’t like the ‘feel’ of the browser. That possibly harks back to the daunting number of options or terminology.

    Perhaps it’s the interface design? Opera looks fantastic, but does that detract from the page you’re viewing? Could it be that people prefer a simpler and less noticeable UI?

    For example, I still think IE6’s interface is far more usable than IE7/8. I also prefer Firefox’s and Chrome’s default UIs over any other theme.

    Finally, I think it’s shocking people don’t test in Opera — 2% of the market is still millions of users. I’ve experienced some Opera-specific development quirks in the past (mainly in v7 and 8) but they’ve usually been easy to fix.

  • WinkyWolla

    @Craig Buckler

    As for Opera’s usage, let’s look at some statistics:

    It just so happens that the very same statistics reported that Chrome had a market share nearly twice as high as Opera back when Google reported 30 million users, while Opera reported about 40 million users at the same time. Somehow I can’t get myself to trust statistics that are this blatantly wrong.

    The fact remains that Opera appeals to comparatively few people.

    Opera has 50 million desktop users, another 50 million Opera Mini users, and millions of users for their other browsers (Wii, DS, Opera Mobile, etc.).

    I’ll ask again: Opera’s one of the best browser’s available so why isn’t it more popular? Marketing and Microsoft domination aren’t the only issues — Firefox achieved early success without advertising and Opera’s been around far longer.

    Firefox achieved success without advertising? ROTFL. Have you already forgotten about how Google paid site owners up to $1 per Firefox download they generated? :D Google supported and advertised Firefox heavily.

    Also, Firefox was released before Opera was released for free without ads. So the fact is that the “totally free” version of Opera has been around for a shorter amount of time than Firefox. It doesn’t really make sense to count the years before that, seeing as it obviously wasn’t aiming for the mass-market at the time.

    Opera only started going for the mass-market about 4 years ago. In those 4 years, Opera has reached 50 million desktop users. That’s not too bad for a small company that hasn’t been able to rely on Google’s online advertising monopoly!

    Looking at the statistics, Chrome appears to be the main cause of Opera’s market slide. Why?

    You are assuming that Opera’s market share is lower. The fact is, however, that you are basing that on demonstrably false statistics. All we know is that Opera’s user has consistently grown since they removed the ads. Also, you are ignoring the fact that Opera has a significant market share in many parts of the world.

    Google are pushing it hard, but why would people shift from a superior browser?

    Excuse me? Did you just blindly assume that people are switching from Opera to Google? What are you basing that flawed assertion on?

    Good though it is, it’s my opinion that Opera has several flaws and inconsistencies which can make it confusing — especially for new users.

    Is that so? Why have you not been able to show these flaws? I have asked you numerous times by now to clarify your comments, but you never seem to be willing to do that.

    No browser is perfect, but rather than discussing how Opera could be improved, there’s a tendency to point out flaws in suggestions, other companies, or other browsers. That’s easy — it’s much harder to come up with your own ideas.

    Why shouldn’t poor arguments be pointed out and refuted? I fail to see why it is a problem that people are doing so. The reason people are responding the way they are is that the criticism is often poorly thought out, and in this case, simply false. Claiming that Opera is confusing by default without being able to justify that just doesn’t fly if you are interested in a proper debate!

    Perhaps it’s the interface design? Opera looks fantastic, but does that detract from the page you’re viewing? Could it be that people prefer a simpler and less noticeable UI?

    See, this is what I’m talking about. Completely unfounded, seemingly random, criticism. Self-contradictory, even. How is Opera’s UI not simple by default, exactly?

  • Colette Gallagher

    I’ve not tried the desktop version yet but I’ve used Opera on my BlackBerry and I’m very impressed. It’s fast and it renders pages beautifully. The only downside is that because it goes through a proxy in Norway you often can’t access video because it’s US only. I think it’s a very underrated browser.

  • http://www.optimalworks.net/ Craig Buckler

    @WillyWonka
    So you don’t believe the market share statistics? Web statistics may be flawed, but are you saying it’s better to ignore them? Where did you get better figures?

    (And yes, I realise lots Nokias and DSs have Opera, but we’re talking about the PC version.)

    As for Firefox, it was a success before the advertising started and after it stopped. But that’s not really the issue — we’re trying to determine why Opera isn’t more successful (no matter how successful you or I think it is).

    As for suggestions/flaws, isn’t that what the article and comments are about? You’ve rejected them, so does that mean you think Opera is perfect? If not, how would you improve it?

    Finally, in most cases, we’re talking about opinions here. It’s all subjective — there is nothing to “debate”. If someone tells you they’ve abandoned Opera because it’s fiddly*, ranting at them for “unfounded criticism” won’t persuade them to try it again. They’ve gone — and that’s a shame.

    (* “fiddly” is a quote I heard today. I thought it was quite a good one-word summation of the problems some users have with Opera.)

  • WinkyWolla

    @Craig Buckler

    So you don’t believe the market share statistics? Web statistics may be flawed, but are you saying it’s better to ignore them? Where did you get better figures?

    That’s kind of the point. The statistics we have seen so far are demonstrably false. All we can go by is the actual number of users, as reported by the various browser vendors. We know that Google reported 40 million Chrome users, and at the same time Opera reported 45 or 46 million desktop users of their browsers. At that time, stats like StatCounter managed to claim that Chrome had a market share nearly two times more than they reported by Opera.

    (And yes, I realise lots Nokias and DSs have Opera, but we’re talking about the PC version.)

    But you claimed that “Opera appeals to comparatively few people”. When Firefox reports 300 or so million users and Opera has more than 100 million users, that’s not exactly “comparatively few people” which Opera appeals to. It doesn’t matter which platform it’s on. Opera is Opera.

    As for Firefox, it was a success before the advertising started and after it stopped.

    No, that’s the thing. Notice what happened when Chrome stopped advertising Firefox and started using their online ad monopoly to push Chrome? Chrome is growing rapidly, while Firefox has stalled, and some figures actually show that it’s starting to decline.

    But that’s not really the issue — we’re trying to determine why Opera isn’t more successful (no matter how successful you or I think it is).

    That’s because Opera is the only browser which can’t rely on major corporations putting their full weight behind it. Mozilla had the likes of Google, IBM, Sun, etc. all funding it and pushing it. IE had Microsoft. Opera only ever had itself.

    As for suggestions/flaws, isn’t that what the article and comments are about? You’ve rejected them, so does that mean you think Opera is perfect? If not, how would you improve it?

    There are lots of things to improve in Opera, but that’s the case for all browsers. Opera specifically could do with more polish for many features, for example. But that doesn’t mean that it’s any less usable for new users.

    Finally, in most cases, we’re talking about opinions here. It’s all subjective — there is nothing to “debate”. If someone tells you they’ve abandoned Opera because it’s fiddly*, ranting at them for “unfounded criticism” won’t persuade them to try it again. They’ve gone — and that’s a shame.

    There’s a difference between saying “Opera isn’t for me”, and making sweeping statements about “why don’t all these people use Opera”, all based on, well, vague claims that have not been substantiated so far.

    (* “fiddly” is a quote I heard today. I thought it was quite a good one-word summation of the problems some users have with Opera.)

    Then all browsers are “fiddly”. Any browser will have a lot of people with problems. It’s quite silly to single out Opera.

  • WinkyWolla

    @Stomme poes

    Firefox used to be the fastest most secure browser around, but now it’s bloat city.

    I would have to object to that, I’m afraid. Opera has a much better security track record than Firefox, and has always been faster.

  • WinkyWolla

    @AutisticCuckoo

    Marketing is definitely one reason. Opera isn’t very good at it, and the competition seems to have far greater marketing budgets.

    How isn’t Opera good at marketing? They have been able to spend far less than the rest, and achieved far better results compared to what they have put into it.

    Opera’s PR department also leaves a lot to be desired. Opera’s fight for web standards (or against Microsoft, depending on whom you’re rooting for) has definitely damaged their reputation.

    Actually, this sounds like brilliant PR by Opera. They certainly got their name out there, and they report accelerating user growth. Very few people are actually bitching about Opera, and those that do are usually corrected by people with actual knowledge on the EU case.

  • stve

    @ Craig Buckler ” I’ll ask again: Opera’s one of the best browser’s available so why isn’t it more popular? Marketing and Microsoft domination aren’t the only issues — Firefox achieved early success without advertising and Opera’s been around far longer. Looking at the statistics, Chrome appears to be the main cause of Opera’s market slide. Why?”
    Even if Opera is static at around 2% of the browser market or even shrinks it does not mean it’s losing users to Google check out
    http://www.internetworldstats.com/emarketing.htm it shows the total number of internet users in the world & the growth year by year
    160 million more internet users than 12 months ago & I expect the growth rate in third world countries where Opera does well is higher than in say the UK or USA.
    Those 2 links to Statcounter are pretty vague Opera usage as reported by statcounter seems to fluctuate a lot I suggest you check out the following

    http://www.w3schools.com/browsers/browsers_stats.asp

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Usage_share_of_web_browsers

    Net Applications (2004 Q4 to present) shows a steady rise as of 2010 Q1 it is peaking at 2.37%

    W3Counter (May 2007 to present) shows Opera 2010 at 2.1%

    Wikimedia (September 2009 to present) Shows a steady rise from 2.62% in September & as of febuary 2010 Opera is at 3.29%

    I very much doubt that Opera will be losing Market share in the coming months the Microsoft browser ballot is going to help & being the fastest browser is not going to hurt any .
    Opera 10.5 is better than 10.1 in lots of ways.
    Zooming a page larger or smaller just by pressing + or – is very smooth with the fit to width option there is no horizontal scrolling . Why do other browsers make you press control as well as + – ? (Ctrl+ works in Opera)
    Upgrading to 10.5 I had a couple of problems which I think were related to syncing with the Opera 10.5 beta I had been using. The other problem how do you open a new separate window I used to just drag a tab to the title bar I googled for the answer and after 5 minutes I was still no wiser so I experimented & found I could drag a tab to the desktop .
    Right clicking on the Opera icon on my taskbar & clicking on Opera just opened a speedial tab in my current window hope they fix that.

    @ Craig Buckler “Perhaps it’s the interface design? Opera looks fantastic, but does that detract from the page you’re viewing? Could it be that people prefer a simpler and less noticeable UI?”

    Maybe after installing Opera they should have a welcome screen with a link to a video explaining how to change the UI.
    If you want a simple interface what could be better than Opera press F11 for full screen mode
    & press F2 to enter an address very quick if you’ve given a nickname to a site (Bookmark properties)
    Ctrl B will open the Panels in Bookmarks Ctrl H for History.
    Ctrl N opens the speedial in fullscreen with the adress bar open as well at your default location I have mine at the bottom of the screen with some buttons on it to access the Personal bar, Main bar, Status bar, & Scroll bars. I need to add another button to close the address bar again.
    I used to have a button to open the tab bar in full screen but it’s pretty ugly with 10.5 no doubt some Hero will fix it for 10.5

    Some improvements I would like in Opera
    I have the personal bar set to just show images but I would love to be able to assign my own icons some sites have great icons I.e. demonoid while others have none & if I add a bookmark folder they all look the same.
    In Full screen mode i can open the Panels & the address bar but I would love to be able to open all the tool bars
    with a toggle I.e. Ctrl T for the tab bar.
    And finally I would love Opera to support colour management like Safari.

  • http://www.optimalworks.net/ Craig Buckler

    @stve
    I don’t think anyone’s disputed that the actual number of Opera users is growing, but it’s market share is not. At best, Opera is fairly static at 2-3%. At worst, it’s share in Europe has halved within a year and seems to have lost users to Chrome.

    The problem is that many companies will use this as justification for not testing Opera. It has far fewer users than IE6 and most companies have given up on that browser.

    @WillyWonka
    So you’re trusting browser vendors to reveal accurate usage statistics? That’s a little naive. Figures are based on downloads: people downloading a new version will be counted more than once, there’s no guarantee a browser will be installed, and there’s no certainty a user will keep it as their default. You’ve chosen numbers to fit your beliefs. That’s your prerogative, but I’d hope Opera make better use of the data available.

    As for “Opera is Opera”, I disagree. The versions on the desktop, mobile/mini, Wii and DS are completely different applications. They’re all good, but bear little relation to the PC version.

    On many devices, Opera is the only browser available and it’s installed by default (like IE is on Windows … should the EU investigate them??!) Surfing from these devices is a growth area, but it currently accounts for a minuscule percentage of internet activity.

  • http://weblog.200ok.com.au/ 200ok

    I think there are a few factors…

    – The default menus should just give up and be the same as Firefox. Maybe pop up a message at some stage offering another menu set to take advantage of more features. But the menus being a bit different causes cognitive load during the ten seconds the average user gives a new browser before running back to the familiar.

    – The name and the marketing just don’t seem to resonate with the US market. I think at times Opera could gain users just by relaunching the desktop browser with a cool-sounding name and having a US-only marketing team to do regional marketing.

    – They have all the features, but don’t label them the same way as other browsers. Built in ad blocker is a “content blocker”, for
    example.

    – Average users don’t care about browser security, so they don’t care about a really key feature of Opera.

    – The serious haters usually haven’t touched it since v6 or v7. Some of their criticism would have been valid at the time, but isn’t now. But they spout it on any post anywhere mentioning Opera. For some reason, people who hate opera REALLY hate opera.

    – People still think it’s not free, or forget the ad-supported version was released in an era when ad-supported versions were very common.

    – There seems to have been a pretty bad backlash after the EU lawsuit thing, even though other browsers supported the motion (albeit quietly). Really, why shouldn’t Opera get the EU to enforce its own laws? MS does use its monopoly to push its browser, the EU does have laws against that sort of thing. It’s not like it was a groundless lawsuit. What the hell happened to cheering for the little guy? But anyway, I think Opera got shafted on that one, they just made themselves look bad while the other browsers got the benefit.

    – It doesn’t have the feelgood glow of open source (FF); nor ride the success of an OS (IE, Safari); nor ride a worldwide domination of search (Chrome).

    – People don’t know their favourite “new” browser feature was available in Opera last year.

    – It’s only just got a serious code inspector going, so developers haven’t really embraced it. We’re all a bit addicted to firebug. Personally I build first in Opera, but that’s a different story.

  • stve

    @Craig you choose the one source that shows Opera’s market share declining.
    If you had taken Wikimedia as your source that gives us in
    april 2009 Opera had 2.57% = 41 million users
    Febuary 2010 Opera had 3.29% = 57 million users
    acording to Wikimedia since April 2009
    Internet Explorer lost 7.08 % of users
    Firefox grew by 0.25%
    Opera grew by 0.72%
    Safari grew by 1.41%
    Chrome grew by 3.35%

    Is Safari growing faster in Windows than Opera ? most users are on the Mac & i think Mac use is growing faster than Windows?

    Statcounter shows Opera lost market share over the same period in April 2009 it was 2.96%
    & in Febuary 2010 Opera had declined to 1.97% this despite Opera releasing version 10 in September 2009

    I wonder why you picked Statcounter as your source was it just to knock Opera.
    It looks to me as if Chrome is growing at the expense of Internet Explorer & Firefox

    Is Opera doing anything to increase market share
    They pushed very hard for the Microsoft browser ballot that should help
    They have just released version 10.5 which for the time is the fastest browser around.

    You seem to like Statcounter because it shows Opera share declining over last year
    & yet over the last year Opera has introduced Version 10 with Opera Link, Opera Turbo ,Opera Unite etc

    Perhaps those who voted in the the About.com browser ballot for 2010 have got it right.
    http://browsers.about.com/od/allaboutwebbrowsers/ss/2010-readers-choice-awards-web-browsers-winners.htm
    over 50,000 votes in all categories & Opera with version 10.1 wins best Desktop browser
    Opera 10.x – 51% (13,234 votes)
    Firefox 3.5/3.6 – 41% (10,710 votes)
    Chrome – 4% (1,266 votes)
    Internet Explorer 8 – 1% (447 votes)
    Safari 4.x – 0% (234 votes)

    You say
    “As for “Opera is Opera”, I disagree. The versions on the desktop, mobile/mini, Wii and DS are completely different applications. They’re all good, but bear little relation to the PC version.
    On many devices, Opera is the only browser available and it’s installed by default (like IE is on Windows … should the EU investigate them??!) Surfing from these devices is a growth area, but it currently accounts for a minuscule percentage of internet activity.”
    Many phones allow you to install a browser & on those that don’t Opera is pre installed for a reason it’s better.

    You say “The problem is that many companies will use this as justification for not testing Opera. It has far fewer users than IE6 and most companies have given up on that browser.”

    This is the reason Opera has been pushing so hard for Internet standards
    & it has borne fruit very few sites have problems with Opera now it used to be far worse.
    If you code your site to Internet standards it will work in Opera.
    If Chrome or any other Browser release something that relies on new code that is not yet an Internet Standard other browsers are going to have problems if the new feature & code is good enough we get a new Internet Standard which Opera will include.

    I think IE & Firefox will be the Browsers who lose market share to Chrome, they are the 2 slowest browsers & Chrome is most similar to Firefox they both have extensions but Chrome has all the resources of Google available.

    I think there will always be room for a powerful full featured innovative browser like Opera that gives you so many options it might never have more than 2% of the browser market but if it stays at 2% it’s number of users will double in a few years due to Internet growth.
    Personally I expect Opera to double it’s user base over the next year.

  • http://www.optimalworks.net/ Craig Buckler

    @stve
    The statistics you mention still show Opera with 2-3% market share. So does StatCounter, but it also indicates that European share has reduced during the past year. Perhaps that’s incorrect, but where are the figures to dispute it?

    You can’t really compare usage stats against the About.com poll. Any poll can be influenced … especially because Opera users are so vocal compared to other groups. And, if it’s correct, why isn’t Opera’s market share at 50%?

    If you code your site to Internet standards it will work in Opera.

    For HTML/CSS I’d agree – although no browser will ever be 100% compliant and bug-free. However, JavaScript and DOM manipulation is another matter and that’s certainly the places where I’ve experienced Opera-specific issues (they were minor and in pre-v10 editions, but they still needed to be worked around).

    You still need to test your web application in Opera to ensure it works. Google don’t appear to be doing that and nor are many others. Would a heavy GMail user keep Opera? It’s not Opera’s fault, but it is their problem.

    I’d want to make it clear that I like Opera. I use it, test in it, and write articles about it. It’s not my default browser, but it would be if it weren’t for a couple of Firefox extensions I rely on (I wouldn’t use Firefox without them).

    Many of the comments here are raving about Opera, but no one has explained why the browser’s share of the desktop market is so low. Disputing statistics or claiming conspiracies doesn’t solve the issue.

    Overall, I think the reasons are fairly simple. Opera has less marketing clout and those who try it find it more confusing than other browsers.

  • stve

    @Craig You keep on repeating that Opera is losing market share in Europe based on Statcounter there are other sources available on the web that show Opera market share to be rising.

    Perhaps if you read this recent article from the Guardian newspaper it uses statistics from StatCounter on European browser usage.
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/blog/2010/mar/01/microsoft-windows-browser-choice-screen
    The EU case was kicked off by complaints from Opera, which is based in Norway. Opera has been markedly less successful than Firefox at getting users to adopt its desktop browser. According to usage-based statistics from Statcounter, Microsoft’s IE has a 45.4% market share in Europe, followed by Mozilla Firefox (39.3%), Google Chrome (6.4%), Opera (4.3%), and Apple’s Safari (3.7%).

    “Lies, damned lies, and statistics” is a phrase describing the persuasive power of numbers, particularly the use of statistics to bolster weak arguments, and the tendency of people to disparage statistics that do not support their positions.”

    Heres another link to StatCounter & European browser useage

    http://gs.statcounter.com/#browser-eu-monthly-200902-201003
    It shows Opera market share in Europe at 4.4% & the only browser in decline is Firefox even IE is growing market share this year.
    Opera have just released an much improved browser blisteringly fast with video which was probably it’s weakest point prior to version 10 & in the meantime Firefox has stagnated.

    Regarding the About.com Poll I only came across it after it was over and are you serious, what about all the Firefox & Chrome fanboys & evangelists who by the way heavily outnumber Opera users & there was a link on a Firefox site urging users to go & vote.

    There is one thing Opera could do to increase market share, patent all the good ideas they keep coming up with like mouse gestures, speedial,Panels,Notes,Opera Turbo,save sessions,A start up dialogue,Crash proof etc……. & stop other browsers copying them. I know it’s a two way street & Opera benefit from copying innovations other Browsers make but Opera is the the most innovative Browser.

    I do not care if Opera has the largest market share as long as it gives me the best browsing experience I will keep on using it & remember if there is site that gives problems you can right click on a page & choose open in from a choice of installed browsers.

  • WinkyWolla

    @Craig Buckler

    So you’re trusting browser vendors to reveal accurate usage statistics? That’s a little naive.

    Considering that Opera reports these numbers to its investors, which means that the company is required by law to reveal truthful information, and the company has a history of being honest and basically doing the right thing, yes, these numbers are indeed trustworthy. More than self-contradictory browser stats at least!

    Figures are based on downloads

    No, they are based on the fact that browsers automatically check for updates at regular intervals. This is the way Mozilla counts its users as well. The reported numbers have got nothing to do with downloads.

    As for “Opera is Opera”, I disagree. The versions on the desktop, mobile/mini, Wii and DS are completely different applications. They’re all good, but bear little relation to the PC version.

    No, they are all running the exact same engine. Opera is Opera.

    On many devices, Opera is the only browser available and it’s installed by default (like IE is on Windows … should the EU investigate them??!) Surfing from these devices is a growth area, but it currently accounts for a minuscule percentage of internet activity.

    You are making stuff up again. The 50 million x2 I referred to are active users of Opera and Opera Mini downloaded from Opera, not preinstalled. The numbers for preinstalled versions are reported separately

    The statistics you mention still show Opera with 2-3% market share.

    And the statistics also claimed that Chrome had a higher market share than Opera when Opera had more users. You know by now that the stats are bogus.

  • WinkyWolla

    @200ok

    The default menus should just give up and be the same as Firefox.

    If you want Firefox, use Firefox. Chrome is completely different from Firefox, and yet Chrome is growing massively, and Firefox is declining.

    Why?

    Because it’s all about advertising, and Google used to use its online ad monopoly to promote Firefox. Now it’s using its online ad monopoly to promote Chrome instead.

    But the menus being a bit different causes cognitive load during the ten seconds the average user gives a new browser before running back to the familiar.

    This is of course completely off-target. The menus are hidden by default. What the user sees is a standard UI.

    I think at times Opera could gain users just by relaunching the desktop browser with a cool-sounding name and having a US-only marketing team to do regional marketing.

    So “Apple” is a cool-sounding name? Heh. Opera do have offices in the US.

    They have all the features, but don’t label them the same way as other browsers. Built in ad blocker is a “content blocker”, for example.

    That’s a useless example. Firefox doesn’t even have an ad blocker. You need to install third party software (extensions) to get that.

    Average users don’t care about browser security, so they don’t care about a really key feature of Opera.

    Actually, security was one of the things that got Firefox off the ground. They had a free browser when the IE security scare was at its highest, and with help from Google they established an alternative based on this security scare.

    There seems to have been a pretty bad backlash after the EU lawsuit thing

    Opera didn’t sue anyone. All Opera did was to report criminal activity to the authorities. Of course the Microsoft propaganda machinery kicked into full gear, and sites were flooded with paid Microsoft shills who started spreading misinformation about the case.

    But anyway, I think Opera got shafted on that one, they just made themselves look bad while the other browsers got the benefit.

    What happened was that Opera had the balls to do something about a problem everyone was seeing. Everyone, including Opera, will benefit in the long run.

  • http://www.optimalworks.net/ Craig Buckler

    Opera reports these numbers to its investors

    It’s worse than I thought! At the very least, Opera will put a positive spin on numbers. Every commercial company does.

    Were you aware that Opera’s revenues were down last year? I wonder why they neglected to mention it in the 2010 investor report?…
    http://www.opera.com/company/investors/finance/

    they are based on the fact that browsers automatically check for updates at regular intervals

    So they don’t count new downloads or people who switch off updates? How is that better?

    You are making stuff up again. The 50 million x2 I referred to are active users of Opera and Opera Mini downloaded from Opera, not preinstalled.

    I’m making stuff up?!! You’ve just stated Opera doesn’t report downloads … except for when it’s Opera mobile/mini? Why is that different?

    No, they are all running the exact same engine.

    Just because Opera has a high percentage of the Wii, DS and mobile market it doesn’t automatically make it the most popular browser on the web. Is Safari usage higher because 100% of Macs, iPhones and iPods offer it by default? Is Firefox usage higher because most Linux distros install it?

    You know by now that the stats are bogus.

    All web stats are questionable, but at least StatCounter is independent and collates information from 3 million websites. They have nothing to gain — but much to lose — from reporting incorrect statistics.

    Opera’s market share is comparatively small. That may be undeserved, but is it really up for debate? Even if it doubles, it’d still have only 5-6%.

    Whether you love, hate, or are indifferent to Opera, companies such as Google are not testing the browser. They may be a competing vendor, but Google doesn’t care what device you use — they just want to sell web apps and advertising. Besides, they continue to test Firefox, Safari and IE (even v6).

    Denying the statistics doesn’t change a thing.

    @stve

    I do not care if Opera has the largest market share as long as it gives me the best browsing experience

    That’s great, but you’re preaching to the converted. If Opera is to become more popular, you need to evangelise the browser, understand why people don’t use it, and suggest improvements. If you blindly assume Opera is perfect and doing well you could lose it forever.

  • http://www.vcarrer.com vladocar

    If somebody is interested here is my review after One Week of Opera Experiment http://www.vcarrer.com/2010/03/opera-1050-for-one-week-summary.html

  • stve

    @Craig
    “You can’t really compare usage stats against the About.com poll. Any poll can be influenced … especially because Opera users are so vocal compared to other groups. And, if it’s correct, why isn’t Opera’s market share at 50%?”
    I googled for
    “About.com browser vote 2010″
    & these were the links that came up urging supporters of various browsers to vote.
    Most of the links are urging Firefox users to vote, I could only find 1 link to a site supporting Opera.
    The links are in the order they apeared on the Google search page you probably know that when Google present links on a search page the links are ranked in the order of popularity ( I know it’s more complicated than that but it’s close enough.)

    http://www.ubervu.com/conversations/blog.mozilla.com/blog/2010/03/10/its-time-to-rock-your-firefox/

    http://macs.about.com/od/readertoreader/ss/readers-choice-2010-vote_8.htm

    http://blog.mozilla.com/blog/2010/02/18/show-your-love-for-firefox-vote-in-the-2010-about-com-reader’s-choice-awards/

    http://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=325896713896

    http://tweetmeme.com/story/598002177/show-your-love-for-firefox-vote-in-the-2010-aboutcom-reader-s-choice-awards-the-mozilla-blog

    http://blog.mozilla.com/addons/2010/02/02/vote-add-ons-for-about-com-readers-choice-awards/

    http://www.ardisson.org/afkar/2010/02/22/last-chances-to-vote-for-camino-in-the-2010-about-com-readers-choice-awards/

    http://my.opera.com/chooseopera/blog/2010/02/02/lets-win-this-thing-vote-opera

    http://hackademix.net/2010/02/02/vote-noscript-best-security-add-on-2010/

    http://t3n.de/opensource/project/firefox/news/

    :
    Came across an interesting link while searching for info on the About ballot
    titled its 2010, and browsers still don’t have a way to stop javascript
    :
    http://www.destructuring.net/archives/2010/03/12/its-2010-and-browsers-still.html
    If you visit the site you will see a button ominously titled “if you click this link, in most browsers you’ll wish you hadn’t”
    I checked it out with the three browsers I have on my PC
    All it does is launch a small box with a OK button & if you press OK it relunches with funny messages.
    :
    Opera no problem at all there is a box next to the OK button you can tick to stop executing scripts press OK & it closes even if you don’t tick the box & press OK you can switch to another tab or just close the tab the anoying OK box is on if you close the box you can continue browsing opening fresh links .
    Safari fails badly the only thing you could do was to keep pressing the OK button. I had to start task manager to close the browser
    Google lets you run the script & you see a box to stop running scripts on the second run & you can switch to another tab but you do have problems if you try & close the bad tab Chrome beomes unresponsive but pressing escape & other keys you could get the browser going again & close the browser
    IE 8 fails badly the same as Safari had to start task manager to close the browser.
    Firefox ? not installed on my PC perhaps you could try it & report

  • http://weblog.200ok.com.au/ 200ok

    @winkywolla:

    So “Apple” is a cool-sounding name? Heh. Opera do have offices in the US.

    I’m thinking more of “Firefox”, “Chrome”, “Safari”. Opera? Not quite as zingy.

    It doesn’t matter that they simply have offices in the US, what I’m saying their marketing should be a really different push in the US market. Over the years there have been some pretty strange promos by Opera (remember the superman era?) and I can only assume they go over better in Oslo…

    Firefox doesn’t even have an ad blocker. You need to install third party software (extensions) to get that.

    My point is that I’ve seen many people complain that Opera doesn’t have an ad blocker, or that Firefox is superior because they can install an ad blocker. They don’t seem to notice or understand that “block content” actually means “block ads”. Simply re-labelling would go a long way. Opera has heaps of great features but people just don’t seem to find them.

    Actually, security was one of the things that got Firefox off the ground.

    My point was about what average users care about. Firefox didn’t get off the ground with average users, it got off the ground with open source fans who are anything but the average user.

    Opera didn’t sue anyone. All Opera did was to report criminal activity to the authorities. Of course the Microsoft propaganda machinery kicked into full gear, and sites were flooded with paid Microsoft shills who started spreading misinformation about the case.

    That doesn’t change the fact there was a backlash. People think “Opera sued MS” whether it’s accurate or not.

    What happened was that Opera had the balls to do something about a problem everyone was seeing. Everyone, including Opera, will benefit in the long run.

    Yes they had the balls; but I think the other browsers will pick up more marketshare while Opera suffers a backlash.

  • stve

    @Craig
    “You can’t really compare usage stats against the About.com poll. Any poll can be influenced … especially because Opera users are so vocal compared to other groups. And, if it’s correct, why isn’t Opera’s market share at 50%?”
    I googled for
    “About.com browser vote 2010″
    http://www.google.com/search?client=opera&rls=en&q=About.com+browser+vote+2010&sourceid=opera&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8
    Most of the links are urging Firefox users to vote, I could only find 1 link to a site supporting Opera.
    You probably know that when Google present links on a search page the links are ranked in the order of popularity ( I know it’s more complicated than that but it’s close enough.)
    There were 5 links to Sites urging Firefox Fans to vote in the ballot
    Then a link to a site For Opera
    And then Two more sites for Firefox
    :
    Came across an interesting link while searching for info on the About ballot
    titled its 2010, and browsers still don’t have a way to stop javascript
    :
    http://www.destructuring.net/archives/2010/03/12/its-2010-and-browsers-still.html
    If you visit the site you will see a button ominously titled “if you click this link, in most browsers you’ll wish you hadn’t”
    I checked it out with the three browsers I have on my PC
    All it does is launch a small box with a OK button & if you press OK it relunches with funny messages.
    :
    Opera no problem at all there is a box next to the OK button you can tick to stop executing scripts press OK & it closes even if you don’t tick the box & press OK you can switch to another tab or just close the tab the anoying OK box is on if you close the box you can continue browsing opening fresh links .
    Safari fails badly the only thing you could do was to keep pressing the OK button. I had to start task manager to close the browser
    Google lets you run the script & you see a box to stop running scripts on the second run & you can switch to another tab but you do have problems if you try & close the bad tab Chrome beomes unresponsive but pressing escape & other keys you could get the browser going again & close the browser
    IE 8 fails badly the same as Safari had to start task manager to close the browser.
    Firefox ? not installed on my PC perhaps you could try it & report.

  • stve

    @ vladocar http://www.vcarrer.com/2010/03/opera-1050-for-one-week-summary.html
    You have a good idea on your site but you can already do that with Opera Composer
    here is a link to a page created in 2001 http://cn.opera.com/press/releases/2001/06/27/
    & a more uptodate link to Opera Composer http://composer.opera.com/composer6/ where you can register if you want to roll your own version.
    I think Opera could very easily make half a dozen versions available for download & put them up on myopera you have loads of good skins available but there is a section called Opera setups which sounds similar to Composer but all it leads to are several very out of date skins.
    Opera could have the bookmarks with folders for beginner, intermediate,advanced & the speedial loaded with help videos.
    Why not have several versions of the Opera:config available so you could switch the UI with a dropdown button on the menu bar.
    They wouldn’t even have to do any work themselves. Just add a section for versions of Opera made with Composer to the skins page & have a competition to fill it with the best ones.

  • http://www.optimalworks.net/ Craig Buckler

    @stve

    Most of the links are urging Firefox users to vote, I could only find 1 link to a site supporting Opera.

    Does that matter? Perhaps the Firefox campaign was less successful. Perhaps Opera users are more satisfied with their browser than Firefox users. There were only 25,000 respondents to that poll and the results don’t reflect actual web-usage statistics or Opera’s market share.

  • stve

    @200ok
    Opera has to have as short name to fit on all those mobile phones
    so firefox is good name ? they should have had DragonFire
    Chrome is a bit old fashioned you used to see it on cars a lot in the 1950’s they could have had GoLego perfect for Google who seem to like silly names.
    Internet Explorer a better more descriptive name could be Internet Crawler.
    Opera I like already I’m big fan of Wagner & remember It ain’t over ’til the fat lady sings.

  • Ben

    Craig, you are asking: “What can Opera do to improve the browser and its marketing now?”

    I suggest that you, Craig Buckler, should take advantage of your reporting position and show some initiative. Begin to positively promote Opera on the merits of the browser and it’s features. With no hang ups with your preferred default browser, no comparisons with other browsers, no personal opinions, no promoting of misleading statistics (it just adds more non-supportive weight), just the merits of the browser and it’s features.

    Yes, you have written a number of Opera articles recently, and these have been riddled with “not my default browser”, “firebug is better”, “The Problem With Opera”, “I still prefer Firefox”, the list goes on. You may “think Opera is great”, but your articles don’t read as such. How about knowing that Opera is great for starters. Expresses a totally different perspective.

    The little gripes about Show Menu Bar location and often having difficulty locating the option you need; these are mediocre. The same way Shift+Clicking a link opens in a new Window in Firefox, and opens in a new tab in Opera which makes more sense. They just function different. Most features in Opera are considered better, are improvements, and are usually justified. Try focusing on these.

    The simplification solution does happen for each major release. Having Opera Link, Opera Unite, Opera Turbo buttons on the status bar, and having a Widgets menu is a trade-off between hiding them altogether and functioning by default. They are there if you need them, suggesting “try me”. Unite, Notes, most toolbars, Dragonfly, mail and chat are ALL switched off by default.

    Average users I have got to start using Opera are only negative when Opera doesn’t work with some non-supportive Web application. And as clarified, this is not Opera at fault. The users don’t have gripes about the interface, only justification when they experience the benefits of mouse gestures, +-* zoom keys, speed dial, find in page, undo closed tab, tabs reopen on Opera start, etc.

    Addressing the terminology is already evident. Click on the status bar icons and see in the menu items “What is Opera Link?”, “What is Opera Unite?”, “What is Opera Turbo?”, and “What are Opera Widgets?”

  • stve

    @Craig “Does that matter? Perhaps the Firefox campaign was less successful. Perhaps Opera users are more satisfied with their browser than Firefox users. There were only 25,000 respondents to that poll and the results don’t reflect actual web-usage statistics or Opera’s market share.”

    About.Com seem’s to be aimed at a more mature & responsible audience that perhaps the typical FireFox fanboy doesn’t frequent & the more mature Opera user does.
    You don’t have to look very hard to find numerous comments by FireFox users disparaging Opera nearly all short sentences.
    Opera sucks,
    Opera is garbage,
    Opera is useless is pretty typical.
    And the comment’s from the open source crowd who refuse to consider it because it’s not open source.
    You must have heard the ” I’ll never use Opera because at one time you had to pay for it.”
    How about the ” I like Opera but it doesn’t have a X plugin so I can’t use it” when Opera has the feature built in or a quick google finds a JavaScript for it.
    I think anybody voting on the the About.com ballot more than once in the same category in a pathetic attempt to distort the voting were despicable & that goes for any Opera users who did it as well.
    I was very surprised that Opera won the best desktop browser award
    That it was First & second in the Mobile category was more understandable with Opera Turbo compressing the sites saving users time & money. I guess the seven & a half thousand Opera Mobile users who turned up might of swung the desktop browser vote in Opera’s favour.
    :
    “That’s great, but you’re preaching to the converted. If Opera is to become more popular, you need to evangelise the browser, understand why people don’t use it, and suggest improvements. If you blindly assume Opera is perfect and doing well you could lose it forever.”
    :
    Opera as a money making machine does not rely on the Desktop browser it’s the mobile market that provides the funding, profits are down this year but in the middle of a global recession how many companies are increasing profits ? Opera say
    they have been buying acquisitions targeting to boost advertising revenue. I expect developing version 10 released in September 2009
    followed by 10.1 & then 10.5 in 6 months was expensive & once they get the faster code ported over to Opera Mini & Mobile they might reap the rewards.
    Opera won’t survive trying to be a better Chrome or Firefox who are battling for the same users Chrome is being developed at a very fast pace & I will be surprised if it’s not the number one browser in 5 years.
    Opera is different to the other browsers & that is it’s great strength.
    :
    I see Dragonfly has gone open source I have no idea how it stacks up against Firebug the last time I wrote any code it was in Basic in the early 80’s on the Sharp MZ 80K .
    http://my.opera.com/dragonfly/blog/opera-dragonfly-open-for-business
    http://www.opera.com/dragonfly/

    I have just found out about Flashblock for Opera & it works in 10.5 some of those flash ads can be a nuisance if the site serving them is slow.
    http://my.opera.com/Lex1/blog/flashblock-for-opera-9

    Opera has sure been busy the last year if the Browser race was a horse race they would checking Opera for drugs.

  • stve

    @Ben “Having Opera Link, Opera Unite, Opera Turbo buttons on the status bar”
    Just wanted to say it only takes about 5 seconds to remove those buttons if you want to simplify the UI just right click the offending button & it’s gone,if you want it back later you can right click the toolbar & reset it to the default.

  • http://www.optimalworks.net/ Craig Buckler

    @stve
    Every browser has fans and it’s detractors. Read the comments throughout this post and you’ll see many subjective complaints from Opera users about Firefox and Chrome.

    The About.com poll does not reflect the true state of browser opinion. Those 25,000 voters felt strongly enough to make their choice and/or leave a comment. They are not indicative of the web as a whole and account for just 0.001% of internet users. (And you hardly claim it was aimed at a “mature and responsible audience” then state that results were subverted by immature Firefox users!)

    Opera may not depend on the desktop browser for revenue, but they are a business. Why would they continue to produce the desktop version if there is no direct or indirect commercial gain? I hope they never abandon the browser, but you have to be realistic. Opera needs to attract users and, unlike polls, a few tweaks could help significantly.

  • http://www.optimalworks.net/ Craig Buckler

    @Ben
    Are you serious? You want me to “show initiative” by reviewing all the positive benefits of Opera, but offer no negative observations, personal opinions, comparisons, or market share statistics? It’s strange you never complained about the negative points I raised for IE, Firefox, Chrome and Safari?

    Quite frankly, I’d rather not write about Opera again if that’s the sort of ridiculous propaganda its user community wants.

  • Stevie D

    @Craig Buckler:

    Many of the comments here are raving about Opera, but no one has explained why the browser’s share of the desktop market is so low. Disputing statistics or claiming conspiracies doesn’t solve the issue.

    Overall, I think the reasons are fairly simple. Opera has less marketing clout and those who try it find it more confusing than other browsers.

    You’ve answered your own question. I’ve not read anything that I would describe as “conspiracy theory”, simply a recognition that Opera doesn’t have the same marketing budget as Google, Apple, Mozilla or Microsoft. I think they put a lot of effort into their mobile browser hoping that it would translate into desktop usage as well, but that doesn’t seem to have happened – lots of people are very happy with Opera Mobile but continue to use IE or Fx on their PC.

    There’s another factor in the mix – some people remember the bad old days when a lot of sites wouldn’t work in Opera, and don’t have the time/patience to give it a second chance. Even when a good friend keeps telling them over and over again that they should ;-)

  • http://www.optimalworks.net/ Craig Buckler

    @Stevie D

    I’ve not read anything that I would describe as “conspiracy theory”

    Look at the comments above. According to some, its market share is incorrectly reported, other browser vendors are to blame, flaws are wrong/mediocre, failing sites are never the fault of the browser and anyone who’s given up on Opera is obviously stupid!

    some people remember the bad old days when a lot of sites wouldn’t work in Opera

    Like GMail? It still happens I’m afraid. Many companies are not testing in Opera because of its low market share. As mentioned, that may not be Opera’s fault, but it is their problem.

  • http://weblog.200ok.com.au/ 200ok

    Look at the comments above. According to some, its market share is incorrectly reported, other browser vendors are to blame, flaws are wrong/mediocre, failing sites are never the fault of the browser and anyone who’s given up on Opera is obviously stupid!

    I reckon the Firefox fanboys are worse as a commenting bloc though ;)

    I do think many people say there are missing features in Opera when actually they’re right there, usually as native features. It doesn’t help that people are just missing things, it’s perception that counts here. Also with v10 the vast majority of sites do work, it’s not like some earlier versions where your mileage would serious vary from site to site.

    Like GMail? It still happens I’m afraid.

    I have Gmail open and working in Opera 10.5 right now, so I’m not entirely sure what you’re referring to (of course that’s just one machine working, but it suggests it’s not a universal problem). Also, Opera run their own browser JS to plug up gaps in popular apps – they know it’s their problem and they deal with it that way. I suspect Gmail would be pretty high up that list…

    Many companies are not testing in Opera because of its low market share.

    I’ve always found that one interesting, since a lot of the same companies still test in Safari and Chrome when they’re all within a couple of percent (and let’s face it, anything below about 10% is dividing the crumbs). I think webkit gets a sort of group discount :)

  • Anonymous

    Yes, Craig, for any browser. Write articles about the merits of the browser and it’s features, whichever browser and only about that particular browser. Let readers form their own opinions without author influence. Let readers form their own opinions without the influence of unjust statistics. ie: 2% market share suggests Opera is not a great browser, when it is. Why continually promote low statistics to create unjust influence?

    If you insist on expressing your personal opinions, at least reserve them for the comments only and not in the main article. Not only would the article be neutral and free from influence, your opinions would also be in the appropriate section.

    As a respected journalist, surely you can acknowledge that I am not against you, and that I am expressing a personal opinion that Opera would benefit if articles were about the merits of the browser and it’s features without unjust influence. Are you willing to write such articles, Craig?

  • http://www.optimalworks.net/ Craig Buckler

    @Anonymous (Ben?)
    This is SitePoint’s blog section. All authors give their personal opinions. So do all software reviewers. That’s the whole point of a review: it gives an opinion.

    My previous article glowingly praised Opera. This one discusses some issues, but the main point was: why is Opera’s market share so low? Neglecting to mention it won’t change anything. Not mentioning it could be worse — people could believe that the browser doesn’t need to be publicised.

    You’re simply asking me to cover the stuff you agree with and censor the rest. I could have censored your comments, but I consider free speech to be important. Do you?

  • http://www.optimalworks.net/ Craig Buckler

    @200ok

    I have Gmail open and working in Opera 10.5 right now

    That’s good. It proves it’s not a universal problem and could just be a few installations.

    a lot of the same companies still test in Safari and Chrome when they’re all within a couple of percent

    Chrome and Safari use the same engine so testing in one usually means it’s working in the other. Together, they have a healthy 10% market share and, of course, they’re backed by two of the largest IT companies.

    Of course companies should test Opera too, but it’s far easier to justify that cost saving.

  • stve

    @Craig
    About.com generate a lot of traffic around 1.75% of global users visit them
    They have guides who specialize & write about just one topic & their articles are vetted to make sure they are fair.The guide writing for the Browser section has been doing it for a long time & is very fair perhaps more inclined to point out the positive aspects of a browser than its flaws.
    :
    About.com has been writing about Opera positively for a long time. The same is true of Firefox since it started. Chrome & Safari being fairly recent there is not a lot of coverage for those browsers in comparison

    http://video.about.com/browsers/Using-the-Opera-Browser.htm
    http://browsers.about.com/od/op3/Opera_Tutorials_For_Windows.htm
    http://browsers.about.com/od/howtousewindowsbrowsers/a/operahelp.htm
    And a page with links to pages about Opera or referring to Opera there are 10 links on the first page & there are another 99 pages of Links.
    http://email.about.com/lr/opera_browser/70949/1/
    Given the extensive & positive coverage of Opera over the last 10 years on About.com
    the fact that Opera was voted best browser for 2010 it’s not that surprising it won.

    you say
    “The About.com poll does not reflect the true state of browser opinion. Those 25,000 voters felt strongly enough to make their choice and/or leave a comment. They are not indicative of the web as a whole and account for just 0.001% of internet users. (And you hardly claim it was aimed at a “mature and responsible audience” then state that results were subverted by immature Firefox users!)”
    I never for one moment thought that the vote meant there was more Opera users on the web than FireFox users I was just pointing out that people who visit the About.com site like Opera & voted it the best browser.
    It might show the true state of browser opinion on the About.com site.
    You said
    “Any poll can be influenced … especially because Opera users are so vocal compared to other groups”
    I read that comment & while I think the bit about Opera users being so vocal compared to Firefox users is not true perhaps you meant articulate. The rest of the comment sounded a likely scenario so I went looking for evidence and found
    There was an attempt by FireFox users ( I presume they were immature) to go to the About.com site & vote as many times as you’d like.
    You also said “You can’t really compare usage stats against the About.com poll. Any poll can be influenced … especially because Opera users are so vocal compared to other groups. And, if it’s correct, why isn’t Opera’s market share at 50%? ”
    So you see the About.com ballot result & assume it must have been rigged by Opera users when a little digging would have pointed at Firefox users.
    :
    “Opera Facing Losses While Firefox Usage Grows”
    was in a slashdot report from 2004
    and a response from Opera
    http://my.opera.com/haavard/blog/show.dml/8053
    here’s a comment made in 2004 but it could have been made for 2010 I don’t think they have been making loses recently but maybe reduced profits?
    :
    “So Opera has ran up losses for a few years, and this quarter again, while ‘investing’ in a beautiful but untangible asset that can’t be put on the balance sheet: the Opera source code.”
    :
    You keep saying Opera is in trouble & losing market share to Chrome I think you are wrong & that Chrome is gaining market share from IE & Firefox here is the data for Europe from StatCounter over the last five months.
    http://gs.statcounter.com/?PHPSESSID=20f74740a3ac241259b789243b42100c#browser-eu-monthly-200910-201003
    Opera grew by 0.36%
    Safari grew by 0.37%
    Chrome grew by 3.08%
    FireFox declined by 1.78%
    Internet Explorer slumped by 4.4%
    Should FireFox be worried yes & no
    Yes because the trend since Dec 09 shows it to be the only one of the top 5 browsers in decline & they are too reliant for funding on Google who now have their own browser Chrome which is being developed at a faster pace than FireFox.
    No because they are open source no shareholders to keep happy & if funding ever got desperate they could always put adds on, it worked for Opera for years & it never bothered me at the time.
    :
    And to cheer up any Opera & FireFoxfans here is a nice graph courtesy of StatCounter on
    browser stats in Russia home of all those World chess champions, famous composers & celebrated Author’s & of course they were the first to send a spacecraft to the Moon in 1959.
    Firefox for the first time became top browser in Russia last month with 32.48%
    Opera regain top spot in Russia in March 2010 with 32.95% Firefox slip to 30.44%
    http://gs.statcounter.com/?PHPSESSID=20f74740a3ac241259b789243b42100c#browser-RU-monthly-200904-201003
    :
    I was going to post to one about my country England you might be more familiar with some other names like Great Britain or United Kingdom no wonder we’re all confused over here, anyway I couldn’t find Opera in the browser statistics as Opera is not among the top 5 browsers so I gave you Russia instead.
    : You say
    “Opera may not depend on the desktop browser for revenue, but they are a business. Why would they continue to produce the desktop version if there is no direct or indirect commercial gain?”
    They need to a use a Browser & they are good at making Browsers so they wrote their own remember there were no good browser’s available when they first started, They started out with a Browser based buisness model. They continue to refine & improve it because ( this is speculation on my part) .. they are using it as a test bed for code to go into the mobile browser money spinning section, it builds brand awareness & value, they enjoy doing it, lot’s of people work on open source projects for enjoyment, they are nice , they have always made versions for different operating systems, for as long as I can remember they have had high contrast viewing modes to help the partially sighted and voice has been out for years must be handy if you lost the wrong arm in a car accident or your hands are crippled with arthritis.
    :
    Craig I think you went to StatCounter & saw some figures that had you thinking Opera was losing out to Chrome if you looked at a different span of time you would come away with a different impression.
    Earlier I posted “Lies, damned lies, and statistics” it’s been around for over 150 years for a reason . Everybody should be suspicious of Statistics.
    I looked at your section Power= Pain & the very first example
    “For example, version 10.5 hides the menu bar but its easy to show it (see screenshot). That’s great — but try and find the “Hide Menu Bar” option” Got right up my nose I was thinking here we go again another Opera basher how could that confuse anybody its obviously a toggle show menu bar does what it says if you press it now there’s a tick box remove the tick it goes away. I was in defensive mode not very conducive for reasoned debate. I read the section again tonight & there is a problem with the Menu bar button Craig was right I had been using Opera so long I didn’t even notice the show menu was in the file menu I just went there on autopilot.
    I think Operas reasoning is they have developed a better menu layout & just having a button (or remove the button altogether
    and press the Alt key) it works fine & I think it’s a step forward when you’ve used it for a couple of days. But pressing the show menu button launches the legacy version of the Menu bar it’s got a fair few options in different places if you switch between the Two versions a lot you’ll go crazy just pick one & stick to it. Opera should have a option to choose the layout version of the menu bar you prefer & have it appear the same in both places.
    :
    Tyssen in the very first comment said “When I installed 10.5 the thing that I hated the most was that on Windows 7 it created a separate task bar preview for every tab I had open” It was driving me crazy as well very stupid of Opera to set that behaviour as the default , Tyssen mentioned the about:config ? surely he meant the opera:config (they both work probably what they use in Firefox?) so I found the option & fixed it.
    Tyssen again “Seems to me that if you’re going to make a fundamental change like that, you should let people know about it and how to change it if they don’t like it.” That’s spot on there’s always going to be something that’s going to puzzle a up-grader when they have a major update of Opera.
    I think Craig is right about the ” The Opera-specific terminology rarely helps either — how many people understand that the “Personal Bar” is a bookmarks tool bar or that “Opera Link” is a synchronization tool?” even I as a long term Opera user think of it as a bookmarks bar and as Synch instead of Link it’s minor but it would be better to standardize the names, Opera have been championing the standardization of code in browsers more than anyone so take it a little further with the names, they used to call the Tab bar the Page bar at one point. But Opera earn some brownie points for the info help button with Unite, Synchronize & Widgets a big help for anyone new to Opera ( I think the help option is new in version 10.5 ?)
    :
    You are in favour of
    “Remove lesser-used features from the basic browser ” I am strongly opposed to that, they are all very useful especially Notes & Synchronization is very useful even if you’ve just got one PC, you upgrade to a new PC or Windows crashes & you have to reinstall. I would downgrade Unite & bury it a bit deeper in the menu. Dragonfly is already buried deeper in the menus than the Chrome & Internet Explorer versions. Mail & chat used to be buried in the menus unless you enabled it in older versions, is that changed in 10.5 ? I enabled it a week ago & can’t remember the default state.
    I checked out the download sizes of the browsers.
    Opera 9.4 MB
    Chrome standalone installer 12.5 MB had to go looking for the standalone version as Google does not tell you the size of the program when you install online. I always like to know the size of a program before I install it.
    FireFox 3.6 is 7.8 MB
    Safari is 30.2 MB & for some reason the page took about a minute to load into my tab sure is pretty though &
    does not tell you the size of the download up front & you have to give them an email address.
    Internet Explorer 8 step 1 I select my Country Step 2 my Operating system WTF where’s Windows 7 64bit
    not even the 32bit version of Windows 7 so I select the Vista 64bit version & find out it’s a 24.3 MB download. Have to give Microsoft extra brownie points for making me laugh.
    You can hardly accuse Opera of bloat or being slow so I say keep all the Features.
    :
    You said
    “Simplify the configuration options” “Show Menu Bar” should certainly be moved and all options should be logically arranged”
    I agree with you but I think they should keep both layouts the menu button layout as I think it’s better & the Legacy option & let you choose the layout you want.
    “why are tool bar settings in both Preferences and Appearances? Advanced options could be hidden, but a single tickbox could bring them all back.”
    Only the advanced options for the tool bars are in the Preferences menu myself I’ve never used them everything I need for tool bars is in Appearances so I guess keeping a rarely used option out of appearances made for less clutter, I can’t see its important either way.
    :
    Craig I apologise for not reading your post properly first time round
    but I do think you have been to busy defending your point of view to comment on answers to your question How would you improve the Browser.
    What is your opinion on Dragonfly & Opera making it open source last month is it going to help Opera, a lot of Firefox users love Firefox for Firebug ?

    Anybody using FireFox visited
    http://www.destructuring.net/archives/2010/03/12/its-2010-and-browsers-still.html
    yet & had the courage to push the button?

    I found a article about About.com on Wikipedia
    at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/About.com
    I found it interesting reading.
    Apologies for the long post.

  • http://www.optimalworks.net/ Craig Buckler

    @stve
    Crikey! Some good thoughts, there. As you can see, a lot of the comments in this post are from Opera users who defend the browser to the hilt. That’s fine, but at least be open to the view that Opera isn’t perfect — especially not for everyone.

    So you see the About.com ballot result and assume it must have been rigged by Opera users when a little digging would have pointed at Firefox users.

    No one’s assumed any rigging of the result. You’re saying the result is fair, but then point at Firefox users attempting to rig it. How can both views be true? But enough about the poll: it does not reflect real-world usage.

    As for picking statistics, I didn’t even realise Opera’s share had dropped until I looked at StatCounter’s 12-month EU graph. Yes it’s grown by 0.36% in the past 5 months, but that’s hardly relevant news compared to its 50% drop! You may not like it, but hiding the figure doesn’t change the truth.

    I am strongly opposed to that [removing lesser-used features]

    They don’t necessarily need to remove features. Installer options or a features panel could bring them back.

    Realistically, what proportion of Opera users even try Unite? Yet, there’s a status bar icon and several menu entries. They could all be hidden by default.

    they [Opera] are nice

    They are a business. They’re producing a great desktop browser, but that does not mean they have to. At some point, a non-technical executive or investor will question the business case for their desktop browser (if they haven’t already).

    What is your opinion…

    If you check my previous posts, you’ll see that I’ve written many articles about Opera (including a recent one about DragonFly).

    I love the browser, however, Opera vultures start circling as soon as anyone points out an issue. I’m yet to receive a complaint from other fanboys that coverage of their browser is disproportionately low compared to Opera, statistics are wrong/biased, or that a negative opinion should not be voiced.

    I think this is another reason why the browser has a low market share: anyone suggesting improvements is immediately ridiculed by the Opera community. Does that help? Or does it stop people writing about and publicising the browser?

  • Aracuan

    Wow, I agree with Craig. This whole comments thread is like one glorious homage to that childish urge to shove off responsibility and blame all our woes anything else but the one responsible.

    Craig says, “Opera is great, but it has very little market share, what can it do to increase it?” He then proceeds to get bombarded with overly defensive counter arguments to imaginary attacks he never even made. “Webstats are wrong! Never had any advertising budget! Firefox sucks!! Google clout! Microsoft! EU lawsuit!” Are you kidding me?

    This article is exclusively about proactively finding things Opera could do to appeal more to the general public, and the general response from the Opera community seems to be a solid “Screw you and anybody who doesn’t love Opera the way it is is a dummy who doesn’t deserve it!!!”

    Seriously, the only rational response to frothy rants like ones above are to say “Well okey-dokey then” and go about your way. I wouldn’t blame Craig if he never writes another word about the browser.

  • http://weblog.200ok.com.au/ 200ok

    @Aracuan: Frankly everything you’ve said applies to the “firefox 4 t3h winz!” and “webkit or go home” crowd on equivalent threads – and yes, people just ignore them too. Do you judge all Firefox users by the crazed fanboys? Suggesting a tech blogger should start ignoring a product due to its fans… well, that’d knock out reporting anything produced by Apple for a start. Linux too. Actually better just shut the blog down ;)

    Craig’s asked what people think is going wrong for Opera; so people have responded. In some cases there may not be much that can be done – eg. I do think there was a backlash after the EU lawsuit, I don’t think there’s a simple resolution to that. If the problems were all easy to solve, this thread would be different (probably shorter and less cranky too).

    Browser stats are seriously flaky, but it’s all we have to go on so there’s not much to be done about it. Nobody better dare mention download numbers though because the other faction will instantly say browser companies lie about it. So it all comes down to whose numbers you trust, and apparently there are no numbers trusted by both sides of the fence so that line of discussion doesn’t lead anywhere.

    You also seem to think it’s unreasonable to observe Opera does not have an OS vendor, the world’s dominant search engine or the open source movement promoting it. But can you explain why that’s an unreasonable point? You think it’s not a factor? Microsoft and Apple can afford massive TV advertising campaigns, you don’t think that gives their product a bit of a helping hand? …and what do you suggest Opera does about that, suddenly find some spare millions to run TV campaigns? Go back in time, go open source and be Firefox? Again, it’s a problem, I don’t know how Opera can solve it. Maybe maybe Opera could convert its mobile users to desktop users, but I don’t know if people are aware enough of their phone browser’s origins to care enough to switch on other platforms.

    You’ve also ignored the existence of comments like mine where I did suggest some changes Opera could make. Eg. I suggested Opera could change their default toolbars/buttons to be more consistent; and to label their features in line with other browsers. I think the initial “first thirty seconds” impression puts a lot of people off, I think consistency is the answer.

    It would help if people didn’t have a bunch of misconceptions about Opera’s features, but that comes down to getting people to try the product out properly, which goes back to that first thirty seconds, etc….

  • Ben

    @Craig:

    One of the biggest factors is that Opera is not known by the majority of Internet users in the world, and you kind of outlined this in your blog post. You mention Opera’s 2% global market share, and then about power features that may be too overwhelming. In other words, Opera has a lower use rate to begin with, before users are even factored by power features. Where is the evidence that the 2% market share is not higher due to people trying but not using Opera? Providing more appropriate statistics such as Opera Usage divide by Opera Total Downloads could give evidence for a more compelling and justified argument.

    It is more appropriate to base your statistics directly about issue itself and not the just entire picture. Not 2/100, but usage/total downloads.

    As for popularity, advertising 2% (2/100) suggests Opera is only 2/100 popular. Which is an unjust influence. We all know Opera is a much better browser than the market share reflects. But Opera’s actual audience (Total Downloads) is not the entire market share, only a small part of it. It is unjust to compare popularity against the entire market share when Opera’s actual audience is far smaller to begin with due to it being lesser known.

    But given Opera is so well entrenched on mobile devices, it’s a little surprising more people don’t use the desktop version.

    Surfing with mobile devices counts as a small portion to the overall global Internet usage. The majority of the world can only access the Internet using a mobile device. You may very well be more surprised that people probably use the desktop version when they have reason to do so.

    It’s highly configurable and offers many options — possibly too many. It takes time and effort to get the best out of the browser.

    It takes time and effort to get the best out of any browser. You may find that people can get more out of Opera much more quickly and effortlessly than other browsers due to it’s built-in nature. And yet there a far more power features that are hidden by default. Even many adept Opera power users don’t realise they are there.

    If you check my previous posts, you’ll see that I’ve written many articles about Opera (including a recent one about DragonFly).

    Yes, and the Dragonfly article’s opening paragraph:

    Dragonfly is Opera’s answer to Firebug. I’m sure browser vendors are sick of the comparisons, but Firebug was the first high-usage developer console and, in my opinion, it’s still the best.

    In a blog post about Dragonfly, you provide an ad for Firebug, basically say Dragonfly is inferior to Firebug, that you can use Dragonfly but you wont be using not the best, all in the first paragraph and all in a post that is about Dragonfly, not about comparing Dragonfly with Firebug. If you want to mention Firebug, you should keep it general and not be so blunt. Let the reader form their own opinion without influence. You could just have stated: “Dragonfly’s features are reminiscent to those found in Firebug.” Enough said.

    Most readers with limited knowledge of Dragonfly will read the opening paragraph of the post and be inappropriately influenced towards Firebug before they even read the information about Dragonfly. And I find the same sort of influence with this particular blog post. It crafts a different angle than an article about eg: Firefox. If authors write on the merits of just that particular browser, there would be a different perspective of Opera by default. But posts and articles about Opera are continually riddled with unjust influence.

    @Aracuan said:

    This article is exclusively about proactively finding things Opera could do to appeal more to the general public, and the general response from the Opera community seems to be a solid “Screw you and anybody who doesn’t love Opera the way it is is a dummy who doesn’t deserve it!!!”

    I know your comment is directed generally towards many commenters, and I want to acknowledge this and express my stance. My comments are merely my personal opinion and offers a different perspective relevant to the topic. I respect the author’s intention, even though my comments undermine, conflict and counteract. I have neither resorted to name calling nor had a cry like Craig has expressed in the his comments. I have suggested appropriate feedback, adding to the topic a relevant perspective which Craig appears to have not understood or hurts his feelings (which is not the intent). My opinions are my own, I can not vouch for the “Opera community” as Craig has so eloquently defined my comments to be.

    You may find it ironic that my comments are actually similar to what Craig has pointed out in his blog post: Trim off the extras and provide only the most important parts. Opera users are oblivious to problems because they are use to how Opera is. Craig is oblivious to what he is use to and writes in a different perspective about Opera than he would with what he is use to, Firefox. Removing the unjust influence and focusing purely on the core merits of the particular browser would in my opinion assist with increasing Opera’s “apparent lack of popularity”. An author’s blatant personal influence should only reside in the comments like everyone else, keeping the blog post free from potential unjust and unintentional influence.

  • http://www.optimalworks.net/ Craig Buckler

    @200ok

    Do you judge all Firefox users by the crazed fanboys?

    All browsers have fanboys. However, in my experience, they’re no where near as passionate as Opera users.

    Browser stats are seriously flaky

    Agreed. But download numbers are no better.

    Suggesting a tech blogger should start ignoring a product due to its fans…

    You also seem to think it’s unreasonable to observe Opera does not have an OS vendor, the world’s dominant search engine or the open source movement promoting it.

    I’ve re-read Aracuan’s post several times, and I still can’t see why you think he/she said that?

    This is another recurring theme. Many Opera users become so defensive of the browser, they flame on auto-pilot without reading or understanding the points being made.

    You’ve also ignored the existence of comments like mine

    Again, I don’t think anyone has ignored you. It’s just that many opinions have been drowned out by some of the more extreme comments.

    It would help if people didn’t have a bunch of misconceptions about Opera’s features

    Isn’t this a case of you having misconceptions about people who don’t like Opera?

    Everyone’s experience of a browser is different: wouldn’t it be better to understand why they think what they do and address any issues? You may not agree with their opinion, but it makes it no less valid than yours.

  • http://www.optimalworks.net/ Craig Buckler

    @Ben

    Providing more appropriate statistics such as Opera Usage divide by Opera Total Downloads could give evidence for a more compelling and justified argument.

    Really? OK, let’s assume 95% of people downloading Opera use it at least once. So (0.95 x D) / D = 95% satisfaction rate! QED.

    You can use statistics to ‘prove’ whatever you want.

    This article questioned why Opera’s market share was so low — how can it do that without referring to the figures? If you want to believe Opera has a 99.9% market share, then go for it. It might make you happier, but it doesn’t change anything.

    You may find that people can get more out of Opera much more quickly and effortlessly than other browsers due to it’s built-in nature

    Quite possibly. But if it’s true, why have ‘simpler’ browsers such as Chrome overtaken Opera?

    you provide an ad for Firebug, basically say Dragonfly is inferior to Firebug…

    If you want to mention Firebug, you should keep it general and not be so blunt. Let the reader form their own opinion without influence. You could just have stated: “Dragonfly’s features are reminiscent to those found in Firebug.”

    How would you describe OpenOffice Impress? Would you say it’s a presentation package or would you say that it’s a free version of PowerPoint? The comparison may not be wholly accurate, but it’s the quickest and simplest way to describe it to people who have some knowledge of the market.

    Firebug isn’t Firefox nor is it exclusive to that browser. DragonFly is a Firebug clone. Neither it, the webkit inspector, or IE’s tools would exist if it weren’t for Firebug’s influence. And, despite a fairly long period of inactivity, Firebug is still the tool to beat — in my opinion.

    All reviews (and the SitePoint blogs) are personal opinions. Disagree by all means — but you’re asking for my views to be removed or rephrased to add a positive Opera-spin.

    Incidentally, I notice you’ve been strangely quiet regarding my recent negative comments about IE9 and IE’s security?

    I have neither resorted to name calling nor had a cry like Craig has expressed in the his comments.

    I’m not sure what you’re referring to, but I love the contradiction!

    Trim off the extras and provide only the most important parts

    You’ve asked for statistics, personal opinion, and negative comments about Opera to be removed. That’s not trimming — it’s censorship.

    Perhaps your views are not indicative of the whole community, but there’s a high volume of fanaticism from Opera extremists in this thread and several others linking to it.

    Here’s the odd thing, though — my review of Opera was overwhelmingly positive! I pity anyone who mentions they dislike the browser.

  • http://weblog.200ok.com.au/ 200ok

    All browsers have fanboys. However, in my experience, they’re no where near as passionate as Opera users.

    Probably true. I find the Firefox crowd the most blunt, Safari the most smug, IE the least engaged with technology…. each group has a bit of a thing ;)

    I’ve re-read Aracuan’s post several times, and I still can’t see why you think he/she said that?

    It’s the bit where they said:

    This whole comments thread is like one glorious homage to that childish urge to shove off responsibility and blame all our woes anything else but the one responsible. [...] bombarded with overly defensive counter arguments to imaginary attacks he never even made. “Webstats are wrong! Never had any advertising budget! Firefox sucks!! Google clout! Microsoft! EU lawsuit!” Are you kidding me?

    What should I make of that? Dismissing a bunch of points with an incredulous “are you kidding me?”; describing points made about Opera’s competitors as a “childish urge to shove off responsibility”… I think that suggests they think it was unreasonable to bring up those points.

    Personally I think it’s crazy to discuss the topic without some analysis of their competitors; and even the most dispassionate appraisal would have to accept that yes, Opera is competing with:
    – a company with a near-monopoly on web search
    – a company with a near-monopoly on the desktop OS market
    – a company with a dominant share of the smartphone market
    – a browser that’s arguably the greatest success of the open source movement (not downplaying other successes, just observing it’s top of the heap)

    Is it really “childish” to observe that the competition had some handy pathways to the market that Opera doesn’t have? I think it’s a contributing factor. Let me stress I’m not whining that any of that is unfair, but for goodness sake if we’re going to talk about why Opera doesn’t have a bigger market share, those facts have to be considered.

    “It would help if people didn’t have a bunch of misconceptions about Opera’s features.” Isn’t this a case of you having misconceptions about people who don’t like Opera?

    I’ll explain the point a bit further. I’ve seen a lot of comments and posts around the web where people say “Opera doesn’t have X” or “Opera ripped off Y from this other browser” when actually Opera does have X, did Y first, etc.

    Common examples:
    “Opera doesn’t have an ad blocker” when it does (right click – block content)
    “Opera can’t block Flash” when it can (right-click – disable plugins; or get the more targeted script)
    “You have to pay for Opera or it has ads” (not for many many years)
    “They ripped off the awesomebar” (they had location bar search first, I’m pretty sure)
    …stuff like that.

    I wasn’t expressing an opinion, I was describing actual statements I’ve seen in the wild which are simply not true.

    If people actually knew Opera’s feature set and history of innovation then maybe they’d give it a shot. If people who hated the ads realised the ads were gone years ago, maybe they’d give it a shot. Etc… so that’s what I meant.

  • http://www.optimalworks.net/ Craig Buckler

    @200ok

    I think that suggests they think it was unreasonable to bring up those points

    Aracuan hasn’t dismissed all points made by you or anyone else. But seriously, have you read through? I don’t think he/she made an unfounded observation.

    I think it’s crazy to discuss the topic without some analysis of their competitors

    So do I. Yet, many of the comments above ask for references to other browsers to be removed — or at least mentioned in a way that doesn’t highlight Opera’s deficiencies!

    I’ve seen a lot of comments and posts around the web where people say “Opera doesn’t have X” or “Opera ripped off Y from this other browser” when actually Opera does have X, did Y first, etc.

    And that, Sir, is the crux of the problem. Those comments have not been made by me or anyone else in this thread. Yet the discussion quickly degenerated into slightly ridiculous pro-Opera/anti-everyone-else propaganda.

    This was an opportunity to suggest constructive improvements which could help the browser’s market share. Rather than do that, a number of Opera users immediately became defensive — perhaps because of something that was said by someone, somewhere else, at some other point in time!

  • stve

    @Craig
    You say
    “I’ll ask again: Opera’s one of the best browser’s available so why isn’t it more popular? Marketing and Microsoft domination aren’t the only issues — Firefox achieved early success without advertising and Opera’s been around far longer. Looking at the statistics, Chrome appears to be the main cause of Opera’s market slide. Why? ”
    :
    “There’s definitely a combination of reasons for Opera’s relatively low uptake. But if you look at the statistics in Europe, there’s a fairly clear migration toward Chrome. Google are pushing it hard, but why would people shift from a superior browser?”
    :
    “As for picking statistics, I didn’t even realise Opera’s share had dropped until I looked at StatCounter’s 12-month EU graph. Yes it’s grown by 0.36% in the past 5 months, but that’s hardly relevant news compared to its 50% drop! You may not like it, but hiding the figure doesn’t change the truth.”

    The Help menu for Opera in version 9 was good if you had problems.
    I went back as far as i could with StatCounter & the growth in Europe follows the release of Opera 9.5 & 9.6
    Data for Europe July 2008 to March 2010
    Opera 9.5 released in June 2008
    Aug 2008 = 3.49% Low point.
    Sept 2008 = 6.2%
    Oct 2008 = 6.38% Opera 9.6 released with Low Bandwidth Mode
    Nov 2008 = 7.77%
    May 2009 = 8.75%
    June 2009 = 8.69% First slide starts
    July 2009 = 6.84% First slide ends
    Aug 2009 = 7.12%
    Sept 2009 = 6.64% September 2009 Opera 10 released 2nd slide starts
    Oct 2009 = 4.05% Slide ends
    March 2010 = 4.41% Opera 10.5 released
    :
    There was plenty of evidence that Opera lost to Chrome,Firefox & Internet Explorer from June 2009 to Oct 2009 when Opera had it’s slide in those months Chrome only grew by 1.35%
    From Oct to December 2009 Chrome & FireFox grew at the Expense of Internet Explorer 8 & from December 2009 to March 2010 Chrome & Internet Explorer grew at FireFox’s expense.
    http://gs.statcounter.com/#browser-eu-monthly-200909-201003

    Opera lost nearly all those users in just 2 months June when it lost 1.85% the next 2 months it lost 0.2% then in September it lost another 2.59% when Opera 10 was released. From October on it has grown slowly to 4.41%
    2.59% of users Left when Opera 10 came out.
    I was thinking version 10 stopped the slide instead it accelerated, everybody who couldn’t handle the changes left in September & since then it’s grown a bit.
    From StatCounter for September 2009 When Opera 10 came out (the previous month August hardly any change for any browser)
    IE + 1.34%
    FF + 0.61%
    Ch + 0.4%
    Sa + 0.23% = Total 2.58%
    Op – 2.59%

    December to March 2010
    Ch + 2.06%
    IE + 0.75%
    Sa + 0.34%
    Op – 0.03%
    FF – 2.62%
    It looks as if Opera is more likely to lose share to IE 8 i haven’t looked closely at which Browsers fuelled Opera’s growth from Sept 2008 to May 2009 but i’m guessing it was IE & in the Sept 09 slide when they upgraded to version 10 they were
    frustrated by the different interface & when they went to the help menu they found it was out of date many pages have links that do not work. The Opera:config has no info on the entries. I think they came from IE & most went back to IE
    Chrome seems to be growing mainly from FireFox. Remember all these figures in this comment are from Europe only.
    :
    Version 10 is better than 9.5 no doubt about it. But something made them leave & Craig is right something is wrong with the Interface & the out of date Help Menu compounds the problem.
    :
    My personal take from the suggestions on this page is the defaults should be.
    That Menu button should stay but put it on the right the same as Google & Safari & put the text on the button,Synchronize, Widgets, & Unite should be kept but show them in the Panels instead. Having notes , downloads, History & bookmarks in the menu makes sense it shows you full page versions of the ones in the panels. Dragonfly should be kept most people will never notice it’s buried deep in the menu & Chrome , Safari,IE8 and probably FireFox as well have the equivalents as standard.
    Enable the menu bar by default but it has to be the same basic layout as the menu button but why does the title bar appear ? when the menu bar is on leave the Menu button on as well at all times.
    The Panel’s should be set to have them spring out when you click the left of the screen.
    The task bar button preview should only show window’s each Window that is open to show the last tab you were using.
    Change Personal Bar to Bookmarks bar I would love to be able to change the icons of bookmarks & bookmark folders & stop calling Synchronize Link.
    The Help menu should be improved , why not have a help folder full of links to videos & articles explaining the interface & features similar to what Adobe Photoshop does on it’s site.
    :
    I tried to think like a new user who had to use the keyboard & were unable to use the mouse.
    The Alt key opens the menu I think everybody would soon find that & every item on the menu has a letter that is underlined press L in help & then O takes you help menu. It all worked very well
    until i got to the help menu, none of the links had a underscore beneath a letter not even keyboard shortcuts. Press the tab key & you are into the search field as i can see a link to keyboard shortcuts i type that in & go to the search knowledge base.The tab key puts me into the search field there is an option for Using Opera without a mouse so i type that in that leads me nowhere. Keyboard shortcuts & using opera without a mouse both lead to the same page.
    It took me another 10 minutes to find out that i needed to press shift & the arrow keys to navigate through the tabs so now i use the using Opera without a mouse link & in the next page i see
    “Using Opera without a mouse

    Opera has an extensive list of keyboard shortcuts that cover just about every function in Opera. We have online tutorials on using Opera without a mouse.”
    without a mouse is the link that takes me to this page
    http://www.opera.com/support/tutorials/nomouse/
    That’s very funny. Maybe frustrating if you are in a hurry.
    I’m getting good at not using the mouse it’s very quick
    So i press Alt L O & I’m in the Opera Help and it’s very easy this time to get to the Keyboard shortcuts by pressing the shift plus arrow keys.
    :
    I start again this time with the mouse. I’m on the Opera help page on the right is a long list of tabs
    at random i press Speedial i get a blank white page i wait for it to load
    it’s not gonna happen
    so i return to the help menu & now its got a very old fashioned look all the links
    that were on the right are now on the left and above everything else.pressing the links nothing happens but i notice the scroll bar & look down the page & it is working kind of .
    I try restarting Opera & have another go
    i click on the speedial button & get the white page this time i try reloading the page & it works i return to the Opera Help page & now all the links work properly..
    :
    It might be just my PC i hope so Comodo antivirus caught a virus in a PDF file when i started opera today i was unable to start using continue from last time i
    started with the speedial & it’s been all right since.
    :
    I tried that Flashblock script for Opera it worked fine but all flash was diasabled & you had to click a link to start flash i prefered it as it was before so i took it off. Somebody on this page mentioned the disable plugin option in edit site preferences did the same thing ,Thats what i wanted thanks whoever you are.
    There are some good ideas in the comment’s from various people also too much @Craig @Steve@whoever I’m as guilty as any one else so sorry to you all.
    I don’t think Opera’s share of the Browser market is going to fall any more unless it turns out to have too many stability issues. But I am not as confident that it’s going to gain lot’s of new users in the coming months as i was before i read Craig’s blog
    And a big thank you to Opera for improving the browser so much over the last year the gains far outweigh the problems for me.
    Here’s hoping 10.6 comes out soon.

  • http://www.optimalworks.net/ Craig Buckler

    @stve
    Thanks for the great post and suggestions. Let’s hope Opera is listening.

    I still think there are no fundamental problems with Opera. The browser’s great, but it’s evolved over many years and needs a little spit and polish. They’ve obviously spent a lot of time on the new look, standards support and innovative features — but that’s possibly been at the expense of less interesting basics such as usability testing and help updates.

    None of it’s a problem for long-term Opera users — although the market share slide suggests otherwise. However, a few tweaks could make it appeal to a larger sector of the internet population.

  • http://www.optimalworks.net/ Craig Buckler

    Wow – we’ve reached 100 comments. I think that’s a record on SitePoint!

  • stve

    @Craig I agree there no major problem’s with Opera and any problems there are could easily be fixed.
    A hundred comments is a lot in any thread & makes it very hard to find the context to a comment there is an easy fix number the comments or when replying to a comment just append the date & time so its easy to find.
    For example :-

    @top March 11th, 2010 at 7:49 am
    Stve reply to Top’s comment
    Agree with apart from.
    I’m not going to quote Top. This is where my views differ slightly so read his comment to get the the context.
    I love the skin with 10.5 however the transparent effect can look terrible if you have the wrong desktop background image. The Menu button & layout & changed naming is better but it conflicts with the legacy option, I agree more work has to be done.Change can be painful but how else can Opera evolve.
    Opera was free but ad supported for years,only one small ad & it was so much better than the other browsers at the time.
    As of March 2010 all the 5 main browsers are good for different reasons no one browser is going to be best for everyone.
    :-
    If you were a new user confronted with the Microsoft ballot & decided to try something new what do you see when you check out the browsers.
    I googled browser choice
    & went to
    http://www.browserchoice.eu/BrowserChoice/browserchoice_en.htm
    I click the tell me more button for Opera
    I go to a page that is pretty but not a lot of info .It describes Opera Turbo in 2 spots first
    Fast Opera is super fast. And, turning on Opera Turbo speeds up slow Internet connections.
    Then
    Opera Turbo
    Boost your speed with our powerful servers to compress Web pages, so you get them faster.

    There are lots of round circles that look like links but aren’t. The only links are Download Opera
    and a link on the bottom right of the screen it’s text is small easy to miss (Read more about the Opera Web browser)
    Clicking the link takes you to http://www.opera.com/browser/?source=choice&language=en

    Because the text is white on a black bar Opera widgets stands out, that’s clever make sure everybody notices the least useful feature Opera has
    There is another mention of Opera Turbo as well “Opera Turbo Boost your speed with our powerful servers to compress Web pages, so you get them faster.”
    There is a video you can watch it’s hosted on You Tube. The video is good but only 90 seconds long they manage to mention Opera Turbo again but no mention of Panels,Notes etc..
    When the video ends a bunch of videos pop up that you can watch. One of them said The Fastest Browser, Which is the fastest browser ? so I watch that its over 5 minutes long & some kid says that Google & Opera are faster than IE & FF so he tests Two fastest ones in a head to head. Google turns out to be fast then Opera is put through it’s paces first thing he does is turn on Turbo mode & complains about the poor quality of the pages & it’s also slower than Google. He switches of Turbo mode but that’s the end of the speed testing he spends the rest of the time showing us Widgets.
    Google is faster & is better quality . (when I first watched the video that fastest browser was visible but you have to scroll to the right to see it now.)
    Its a mistake a lot of people make they think Turbo makes Opera faster they do not realise it actually makes Broadband slower most of the time, I tried running Turbo myself in Auto mode.
    when Opera 10 first came out but Turbo auto slowed me down.
    Why on earth did Opera host that video on You Tube. There are other options out there Vimeo is pretty good you can set it up so visitors only see videos that you have made.

  • http://www.optimalworks.net/ Craig Buckler

    Great points, Stve.

    Opera often to give prominence to their technically innovative but lesser-used features. Turbo’s great, but it’s really aimed at mobile devices or slow connections. Yet, it’s mentioned twice on the download page, is prominent within the browser and the name gives the impression that it’ll speed up your browser. Broadband users could be disappointed and those who don’t understand it might assume Opera renders poorer-quality images than the other browsers.

    I think their browser choice web page probably says a little too much and has some quite unusual ‘top’ features. That said, it’s far superior Safari and IE’s pages. Firefox has a similar amount of content to Opera, although I think it works better — it has a bigger download button and further information links. Chrome’s screen is minimalist, if not ugly, but I think it could appeal to anyone who can’t be bothered to wade through long feature lists.

    I’d love to see some usability testing results!

  • PumpkinSeed.tk

    Aww shux, I missed out on posting the 100th comment!

    What fun this has been to read all these comments!

    As for issues with GMail, I’m please that things have improved with Opera 10, where I no longer need to clear the cache when the page won’t load properly. A Simple Reload does the trick.

    As far as incompatible pages and browsers, coders would do well to test (and code?) in Opera. Though perhaps seen as the Least Common Denominator, or the “Weakest link”, nevertheless, in my experience, if it checks out well with Opera, then the site should run perfect in just about every other (non-standards compliant) browser. I feel Opera made a good effort to help the WWW community develop standards compliant websites with their inclusion of Dragonfly, and went so far as to make it Open Source!

    Of course there is a self-interest there, to make their browser look better at rendering more sites properly…but doing so will help the WWW at large.

    Is there room for improvement? Of course!
    For one, I’d like to see better organization, development and promotion of Opera Widgets, JavaScript Buttons & skins. Once people are aware how easy it is to add these “extensions”, many will gladly drop FireFox for a more powerful, safer, faster and configurable browser that can do all FF did for them, with added built-in features/benefits, STANDARD.

    Some of my favorite features include: Opera Link (Sync), Spell Check (which I’m using now), Fit to Width, Keyboard navigation, Notes (which I typed this in), User Mode, and the ability to re-open closed tabs. (I could go on).

    I hope developers @ Opera will discover this discussion…
    Better yet, I can lead them here by clicking, “Help” ->”Report a Site Problem”, and they can see any Site, Engine & GUI problems mentioned above.

    Great discussion! Think I’ll upgrade to 10.5 tonight! :)

    ~Andrew
    Empowering Solutions

  • stve

    My take on the EU ballot & selecting tell me more
    :
    FireFox not as polished as IE everybody will of heard of it so will generate a lot of downloads but can it keep them. The Barebones FF is not very impressive & most of the IE users are not tech minded.
    :
    Safari very polished I can see a lot of IE users reaching for the download button
    & will probably keep a lot. Tell’s a lot of lies i spotted 6 ie “it is the worlds fastest browser”
    :
    Opera very smart page Safari looks best but Opera is close I can see a lot liking Opera if they stay away from the turbo button.
    :
    Internet Explorer I thought was a good page reasuring well laid out I know several people who will probably stay with IE.
    :
    Looked at the Google page just a download & learn more links, so you press learn more & land on a page that seem’s to be aimed at infant’s i thought it was pathetic but a link on the bottom right led me to
    http://www.chromeexperiments.com/
    They nearly all work great in Opera fantastic quality. I’ve never found anything like this in widgets.

  • stve

    Updated to 10.51 this morning. I’m surprised it’s out so quick don’t they sleep at Opera.
    :
    “Today Opera releases version 10.51 that has many fixes and improvements, and makes exciting improvements to the impressive performance introduced in the previous version. In Futuremark’s Peacekeeper benchmark, Opera 10.51 is an impressive 27% faster than before.”
    http://my.opera.com/portalnews/blog/2010/03/22/opera-10-51-released-the-fastest-browser-just-got-faster

  • http://www.optimalworks.net/ Craig Buckler

    @stve
    I was surprised that 10.51 was released so quickly too. There don’t appear to be any radical changes — mostly minor bug fixes.

    Opera 10.51 also decided to set itself as my default browser without prompting. Very naughty!

  • stve

    @ Craig its very annoying when a program makes decisions for you without asking, on my PC Opera is the default browser I changed the default to IE & restarting Opera it did ask me if I wanted Opera as the default. Setting the default to Opera on without asking is stupid & likely to alienate people I wonder if it was a mistake or deliberate.

  • http://www.optimalworks.net/ Craig Buckler

    @stve
    I suspect it’s a one-off quirk unique to my PC – it’s never occurred before? Unless anyone else has experienced the same issue?

  • WinkyWolla

    @200ok

    “Chrome” and “Safari” are not exactly cool names. Your xenophobic comment about their marketing is just lame. They have US office, so why are you making assumptions about “go over better in Oslo”? Do you think people “in Oslo” are retards or something since you spew xenophobia like that?
    .
    It would be completely moronic to rename block content to block ads. Lawsuits ahoy!
    .
    Firefox got off the ground because Google used its online ad monopoly to promote it.
    .
    As for “backlash”, considering that Opera’s downloads tripled or so after the ballot screen was introduced, it appears that the few but vocal whiners (who are are also hypocritical douchebags because companies like Google and Microsoft have been filing antitrust complaints as well, but no one seems to be bothered by that) are not having an effect. Opera is gaining new users at an accelerating rate.

  • WinkyWolla

    @Craig Buckler
    .
    Here we go again!
    .
    “Opera may not depend on the desktop browser for revenue, but they are a business. Why would they continue to produce the desktop version if there is no direct or indirect commercial gain? I hope they never abandon the browser, but you have to be realistic. Opera needs to attract users and, unlike polls, a few tweaks could help significantly.”
    .
    Actually, the desktop version has a growing user base, and brings in very decent revenue for Opera.
    .
    Why are you still assming that they are not attracting users even though I have already told you that Opera’s desktop user base is growing at an accelerating rate?
    .
    “Realistically, what proportion of Opera users even try Unite?”
    .
    Do you know? If not, why are you bringing it up?
    .
    “They are a business. They’re producing a great desktop browser, but that does not mean they have to. At some point, a non-technical executive or investor will question the business case for their desktop browser (if they haven’t already).”
    .
    Nearly 40% of Opera’s total revenue is from their desktop browser, and the revenue is increasing by 50-100% yearly. They aren’t going to stop working on it any time soon.

  • WinkyWolla

    @Aracuan

    You are misrepresenting the situation.
    .
    Craig made some very bold statements about Opera, and statements he could not back up with actual facts. He started talking about browser stats that are demonstrably false.
    .
    When Craig puts his neck out there and starts lecturing Opera about what they should be doing, he definitely should have some good stuff in there! Unfortunately there was no substance to his article.
    .
    He puts his neck out there with bold statements. Of course he has to accept the fact that people will disagree strongly when he makes flawed arguments.

  • WinkyWolla

    @stve

    “Version 10 is better than 9.5 no doubt about it. But something made them leave”

    Who is leaving?

    Opera has consistently been doubling its user base every two years. Opera 10 accelerated their user growth.

    You are referring to browser stats, but those have been proven to be bogus. For example, with Opera Turbo thousands of users can be counted as just one! Add to that the fact that Opera has to identify as other browsers on many sites.

    You are claiming that something made peopel leave Opera. But Opera’s user base has only grown!

  • mathieuf

    This is a long blog already, so I’ll make this short.

    My main problems with Opera are finding the means to do the customization. Many people have already mentioned this, in various ways, above. Sometimes to organization of the controls/switches to set the preferences as I like just don’t make sense.

    Current example: I have Opera on 3 systems I use regularly. I cannot get the toolbar for the tabs set up the way I like it, not even the same way, on all three systems. I cannot figure out why one system keeps losing my setup. (The 10.5 update did pretty good preserving what I had set up.)

    By the way, several people mentioned the period of time when Opera was not free. Please recall that it was always free, but the paid version did not have the advertising strip on it. (This seems to be a practice now for many types of free software.)

  • stve

    @WinkyWolla,
    StatCounter statistics for Europe showed Opera lost 2.59% of users in September 2009 when Opera 10 was released.
    I do not think they all switched Turbo mode on & are still with Opera I think lots of people downloaded Opera switched on Turbo mode because it’s got to make Opera faster right! so they are surfing on their fast broadband connections with Turbo switched on & discovered that Opera is slower than Internet Explorer.
    Have you any proof that all those Turbo users are not counted in the stats or are you just guessing.
    If all Browser stats are bogus how do you know Operas user base has grown?
    Opera has very efficient caching which is why its always felt so quick especially when going forwards or back through a tabs history, other browsers reload the page instead.
    I suspect Opera users are under reported I simply do not know how accurate the figures are.
    As you are making some bold statements yourself I look forward to your next post where no doubt you will be backing them up with some actual facts.

  • http://www.optimalworks.net/ Craig Buckler

    @WillyWonka

    “Chrome” and “Safari”; Firefox etc. etc.

    Nothing changes because another browser vendor has done something different, better, or worse than Opera!

    It would be completely moronic to rename block content to block ads. Lawsuits ahoy!

    Is that your considered legal opinion? You cannot copyright English words. “Block Adverts” or similar would be fine.

    He started talking about browser stats that are demonstrably false.

    By who/what? Why do you dispute Opera’s halving of users in Europe last year? What independently collated figures are you comparing it with?

    Opera’s downloads tripled or so after the ballot screen was introduced

    Now, that’s a meaningless statistic! Tripled from what? 1 trillion to 3 trillion? Or 1 to 3? Opera neglected to mention it. Besides, downloads are useful, but it’s active users who really count.

    Realistically, what proportion of Opera users even try Unite? Do you know? If not, why are you bringing it up?

    Why shouldn’t it be brought up? It may be great, but it’s a niche feature which is disabled by default. Why not remove the icon and menus too? It’s just a suggestion.

    and the revenue is increasing by 50-100% yearly.

    It fell in 2009.

    people will disagree strongly when he makes flawed arguments.

    Some of my comments were subjective so, yes, people will disagree. A Unite user certainly would.

    But you appear to be approaching this from a standpoint that (a) Opera is perfect, (b) it cannot be improved, (c ) it has a huge rapidly-growing user base, (d) browser statistics which show otherwise are wrong, and (e) any failures on Opera’s part are due to competing browsers/companies.

    Your opinion is valid. So is everyone else’s.

  • Dan

    “Its biggest strength is it’s weakness” Yeah well this could be said for less configurable browsers too. It all depends on what you want. I want something thats fast and configurable which opera 10.5 is. This is one of the reasons i stuck with firefox for so long as it was the web browser that had a good compromise between both. Now with opera 10.5 i don’t have to compromise any longer. I finally have the web browser of my dreams, thx opera!

  • stve

    Stumbled on Opera Community Member Statistics for 2009 at Tamils Blog.