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Opera and Internet Explorer living side-by-side

April 28, 2005

There is a particularly disturbing quote from Opera’s PR Specialist, Berit Hanson, in the Daily Illini.

Opera is not trying to replace Internet Explorer (IE), said Berit “you can use them side-by-side. We recommend that, Opera is a tool for the internet.”

Berit, I hope you were misquoted. Opera should be trying to replace IE! Why would Opera recommend using IE and Opera side-by-side?

Perhaps Berit meant to say that IE should be used as an alternative for webpages that aren’t properly displayed in Opera. But that shouldn’t be the official company policy. Opera should instead encourage those ignorant web developers to correct their practices. To be fair, Opera does contact site owners who’s pages aren’t properly displayed in Opera. Opera 8 also added a “Report a site problem” option (under the Help menu).

Berit, as I said above, I hope this is not what you meant to say. I would be glad to post your response to this. You have my personal email address.

Update: Read Berit’s response.

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Categories: Uncategorized
  1. April 28, 2005 at 5:16 pm

    If people only look at the browser as a desktop technology, then Mozilla’s offering is interesting. I know this sounds counter-intuitive, but I think Firefox is driving with its eyes focused on the rear-view mirror. We think of the Internet today as a desktop application. The future of the Internet is a world of connectivity for many different types of devices. Even Bill Gates has acknowledged that over the remainder of this decade more devices that are not on desktops will connect to the Internet than those which are on desktops. If Opera can become the user interface of choice for these devices it will spread far beyond Mozilla’s model and earn media attention for this growth.

    Also, as an open source application Mozilla has a challenge in terms of breaking into enterprise level environments. There are support issues, technology and intellectual property issues, and security issues which large corporations must address to deploy a new browser to 10s of thousands of desktops. Corporations will not reply on “volunteer programmers,” even if their day job is at Google, to support these kinds of IT decisions. On the other hand, a for-profit firm, which is publically traded, is in a position to address all of these issues as part of ongoing business and through contractual relationships.

    Sun Microsystems and IBM, both of whom have flirted with making some of their intellectual property ” open source, know that at the end of the day contracts for services built on top of technology platforms, either HW or SW or both, are what counts for buyers of information technology.

    Opera’s success in the media need not be counted as a contest in terms of number of desktop downloads nor as a “replacement” for IE. Rather, it ought to be viewed in terms of how continued focus and investment in technological innovation allows them to deploy on multiple plplatforms that follow the growth curve of the Internet’s expanding realm of connectivity.

    The media follow the money, or at least the numbers, which is why Firefox’s 25M downloads get so much attention. Opera can differentiate itself in media coverage by focusing on its key markets, which spread far beyond the desktop, and by emphasizing its growth potential for platforms such as embedded video/home entertainment, cell phone/PDA and as the embedded browser of choice for apapplication such as Adobe software.

    Opera is a relatively small fish in the sea of the IT world with about 200 employees and less than $20M in annual revenues. When you consider AOL and MSN, both of which provide their own browsers to desktops, the media is much more likely to pay attention to them because of the their size. Also, the media looks at busines measures like revenue per employee and percent of sales invested in R&D. As Opera grows these measures will get media attention. Even if Opera had 2,000 employees and $200M in sales, it still would be relatively small compared to these technology giants.

    I think it is remarkable the firm gets as much publicity as it does which is a credit to its Communications staff. So, yes, stunts like “saps at sea” are a lot of fun, and get ink in places like Motley Fool and CNET. This kind of publicity is important because it helps brand awareness even if it doesn’t immediately add to brand value. There are many ways to get attention in the media. I see this week’s adventure of Opera going to sea as another example of creativity by the firm. When was the last time you saw Bill Gates poke fun at himself or his company? I’ll leave out detailed mention of the infamous Steve Ballmer victory dance that makes the rounds on the Internet. There is a line between having fun and embarassing yourself through over exposure. Just ask Paris Hilton. Enough said.

    Consider what the media reaction to Opera’s “saps at sea” stunt would have been if its CEO had been swimming after a boatload of beauties in bikinis rather than in slapstick fashion siting raft sinking same on day two with his hapless PR chief.

    If you want another example of a technology oriented firm not taking itself too seriously, check out the lead editor’s note in the April 2005 issue of Scientific American. http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?chanID=sa006&colID=2&articleID=000E555C-4387-1237-81CB83414B7FFE9F

  2. Asa
    April 29, 2005 at 3:15 am

    “The media follow the money, or at least the numbers, which is why Firefox’s 25M downloads get so much attention.”

    Um, 50 Million downloads.

    – A

  3. April 29, 2005 at 4:01 am

    Opera (nor Firefox) can currently be used to replace the MSHTML component of the Windows operating system. There are some ways to remove MSHTML from your system, if you don’t mind for example the lack of Help in many applications. Etc.. More trouble than it is worth, and so not something Opera is promoting. I think Berit was talking about that. Use Opera for all your webbrowsing, and Explorer for Windows (and Office) Update and the legacy ActiveX apps in your office.

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