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Opera's market share

May 3, 2005

Asa from Firefox brought up an interesting comment on the number of Opera users. On the one hand, Opera claims to have 10 million active users, while also claiming to have had 60 million downloads of Opera 7. Asa wonders what happened to the other 50 million users.

This is a legitimate question, but I think it can be explained easily. First of all, it’s sometimes hard to identify the true identity of an Opera browser, since Opera is configured (by default) to identify itself as Internet Explorer (IE). This has a major effect on the usage statistics of the Opera share in the browser market. It often leads to a wrong perception of Opera’s browser share. (For those of you Opera users, who haven’t yet revealed your true identity, press F12 and select “Identify as Opera”).

Second, Opera 7 had over 8 upgrades — from Opera 7.0 to 7.5X. The total number of downloads for Opera 7 also includes the updates. So lets say, each active user upgraded Opera 7 only five times, this would already give you 50 million downloads.

Another point to remember, the number of downloads don’t translate into the same number of users. It is, however, an indication of its popularity.

Firefox has been downloaded more than fifty million times, but in no way does that mean there are 50 million users. Take myself as an example; I downloaded Firefox 4 times once at home and once at work. I also installed one update to each computer. I’m assuming a good part of the people have installed Firefox on at least 2 computers. Couple that with some updates, and you have 50 million downloads.

I’m not suggesting Firefox doesn’t have a considerable amount of users; it does, but nowhere close to 50 million.

Asa, math maybe hard, but math with facts isn’t.

Categories: Statistics
  1. Asa
    May 3, 2005 at 5:46 pm

    When I say that Opera claims 1% market share, that’s Opera’s claim. It’s not some random measure, it’s the market that Opera is publically saying it has.

    There’s little disagreement among analysts that Firefox has about 9-10% of the market.

    The math question I’m having difficulty with is how Firefox’s 50 million downloads turned into ~9-10% of the market while Opera’s 60 million downloads turned into ~1% of the market.

    – A

  2. May 3, 2005 at 6:41 pm

    UA identity in Opera is often NOT Opera. Didn’t you read that, Asa?

    I am not a rocket scientist, but that surely would contribute to a lot of discrepancy as you see it, do you not think, Asa?

  3. Craig Skinner
    May 3, 2005 at 7:54 pm

    Actually, the UA allows Opera to pass the script and server checks for IE, but still allows Opera to be identified.

    David Naylor (http://naylog.blogspot.com/2005/03/browser-recognition-of-statistics.html) has a great table showing how well the free counters are able to recognise Opera. Commercial counters should be at least as good.

    So, the UA does not explain the discrepancy!

  4. Foofy
    May 3, 2005 at 8:18 pm

    Asa just doesn’t like Opera. Opera versus Firefox is going to quickly turn into the new Mac versus Windows. Different tools for different users, why can’t anyone get that? Instead of getting upset, Gecko zealots should be happy there are 2 million more standards-friendly browser downloads. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

  5. Foofy
    May 3, 2005 at 8:20 pm

    Please note I worded that whole comment wrong. I wasn’t accusing anyone of Firefox-zealotry and my “Asa not like Firefox” remark was more silly than serious.

    I.e. please don’t flame me. I’m a timid creature, there is no fight in me!

  6. Asa
    May 3, 2005 at 10:10 pm

    treego, I’m merely pointing out that I’m not going by what websites measure opera traffic as, I’m pointing out what Opera Software is publically saying about their own marketshare. If they don’t believe the 1% number, then why are Opera representatives telling the press that they only have 1% market share?

    Also, as the post above points out, all of the major stats counters identify Opera correctly.

    – A

  7. Asa
    May 3, 2005 at 10:10 pm


    – A

  8. May 4, 2005 at 12:35 am

    If changing the UA string in Opera makes ‘difficult’ pages send Opera the same code it sends other browsers, it lets me know that the UA detectors can be spoofed.

    How are we to know whether or not such stats are accurate?

    If Opera has 1%, so what?

    If Firefox has 5-10%, so what?

    IE has 85-95% — does that make IE better?

    Of course not.

    Asa is just here to ‘rag on’ Opera as usual—if it’s not here, it’s in his own blog. Trollish behavior coming here, it seems, — at least, that is what I get accused of often by FF users for far less adversarial/skeptical comments about my less-favored browser.

    I cannot speak for the world at large, but I know this much in the USA: Opera is hardly even known about in contrast to IE or even Firefox.

    The media has gone gaga over Firefox, and chosen not to do the same for Opera.

    That is a real “head-scratcher” for me since Opera seems much more mature and altogether just a better product with far more features that don’t rely on 3rd party writers who I should explicitly trust to start getting the features that are missing in Firefox and present in Opera.


    Firefox is not Opera, by a long shot … whether the world realizes it or not! ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. Asa
    May 4, 2005 at 3:16 am

    treego, you ask “How are we to know whether or not such stats are accurate?”

    I don’t know that the stats are accurate, but I do know that Opera Software is the one using the “1%” stat. If it wasn’t accurate, or suspect of being inaccurate (especially if it under-represented Opera’s actual market share) then why on earth is Opera using that number?

    Opera Software is not saying “we think we have about 5% but it’s hard to tell” or “we’re doing better than the 1% figures from OneStat would suggest.” Opera Software is telling the press “We have 1% of the market.” Why would they say that publicly if they believed it wasn’t accurate? No one is forcing them to say what they think they have. They’re volunteering that information.

    Opera Software is also stating that they’ve had 60 Million downloads of Opera 7.x. No one told them they had to put that number out there. I’m assuming they think it’s a good number or they wouldn’t be using it.

    My question isn’t to slam Opera. My question is how Opera can have 60 million downloads and that translate to only 1% market. That doesn’t make a lot of sense to me when I see that Firefox’s 50 Million downloads translates into about 10% market.

    – A

  10. May 4, 2005 at 6:25 am

    I, for one, downloaded the english version of Opera 8 just once, and installed it on 6 computers so far.
    It’s because of limited bandwidth; plus I also like to have a copy on my memory stick, when I visit friends ๐Ÿ™‚

  11. Anonymous
    May 4, 2005 at 7:45 am

    My own 2 cents on this discussion on market share: mainstream awareness.

    I’m an IT businessman in Japan who values speed, security and simplicity. Early in the year I downloaded Firefox after a feature on it done by our mainstream media, but I switched back to IE after a few weeks because there was no noticeable difference, at least not to me.

    After downloading Opera 8 it was obvious even to someone like me that Opera has a superior browser product to IE. For this reason alone the company deserves more attention from our media. After all, we are the largest market for non-PC internet devices.

    What I do not understand is the fact that I’ve never heard of Opera Software ASA in my part of the world (Asia) until a few days ago, and I discovered them by accident via a US-based web site!

    I await a Japanese version from Opera that hopefully will have a translation (J-E, E-J) feature working in multimodal (voice) browsing mode.

  12. May 4, 2005 at 8:08 am

    Mr. Asa sir.. I don’t think it’s right to assert Firefox has 10% marketshare. 50 million downloads equates to probably under 30 million users, and I feel the internet has more than 300 million active users. I think you might be picking on numbers Opera has mentioned in passing without much thought and criticising them as if they were based on extensive analysis and statistics.

    60 million Opera downloads probably doesn’t equate to that much after you cut off the amount of upgrades, users who reject it (which would be more than for Firefox), etc. I don’t think it’s worth making a fuss out of the way 60 million becomes 1%. Nor is it worth kidding yourself Firefox has 10% of the browser market with only 50 million total downloads. IE dominates. ๐Ÿ˜

  13. May 4, 2005 at 8:34 am

    50 million downloads equates to probably under 30 million users, and I feel the internet has more than 300 million active users.

    Even if your calculations are right (I doubt Firefox has only 30 M users), users do not equal usage, which is what Asa is referring to. (Usage is what is measured by all the stats providers out there on the web.

    Nor is it worth kidding yourself Firefox has 10% of the browser market with only 50 million total downloads.

    Firefox has been downloaded far more often than 50 M times, thanks to other file-hosting websites such as cnet’s download.com. Also, Asa isn’t kidding himself at all. Browser stat reports are currently saying Firefox has anywhere between six (US?) and thirteen percent (Europe?). You’re the one kidding yourself if you don’t realize that Firefox usage is in the vicinity of 10%.

  14. Anonymous
    May 4, 2005 at 10:46 am

    Asa, where has Opera stated that it has a 1% market share? Opera actually has up to 5-6 per cent in European countries.

    Also, Opera is likely to be undercounted because it requests resources far more seldomly than Firefox and IE:


  15. Duane Lambe
    May 4, 2005 at 11:17 am

    Asa’s likely not kidding himself regarding FF’s usage – it’s a pretty accurate number, I imagine.

    The things that are wrong are the comments like it’s going the way of Firefox, missing how Opera IDs itself by default, and saying it’s hard to use. Self-serving, thinly-veiled, flame-inducing comments. Obvious, Asa – you should be ashamed saying such things in concert with a post that says you’re /not/ trying to bash. Hardly visionary.

    You want FF to be the best browser? Then make it the best one. Don’t sit around yapping and bitching about how the numbers don’t make sense with your friends, and then jump out and start posting blind comments. It helps nothing, absolutely nothing, and the non-zealotous community, while thin in number, can see it plain as day.

    Browser stats? I could care less, and if anyone looks looks closely enough, it fails to be the focus of the post pretty quickly.

  16. May 5, 2005 at 6:33 am

    “My question is how Opera can have 60 million downloads and that translate to only 1% market. That doesn’t make a lot of sense to me when I see that Firefox’s 50 Million downloads translates into about 10% market.”

    Well, my question is how Firefox can have 50 million downloads and that translate into about 10% market. That doesn’t make a lot of sense to me when I see that Opera’s 60 million downloads translates into only 1% market.

    The above is not seriously meant, it is just an attempt to show how by simply switching whose statistics conclusions one choose to believe/rely on things look entirely different.

    I for one could not care less about these silly, “My -insert browser here- statistics show that, yap yap yap…” debates.
    With no way for me to learn how the statistics been collected and what errors there may exist, I read them as a crude indicator on trends nothing more.
    High numbers of users is in no way necessarily a indication of high quality, nor is low numbers always an indication of poor quality.

  17. May 5, 2005 at 8:49 am

    I read them as a crude indicator on trends nothing more.

    I thought that was what they were for.

    High numbers of users is in no way necessarily a indication of high quality

    Of course not – look no further than at IE for a proof of that statement.

  18. Anonymous
    May 6, 2005 at 2:10 am

    Although Opera identifies itself as IE default, the string Opera is still there. So most Opera users ARE showed in statistics as Opera users!

    In ua.ini it can be completelly turned off, but I don’t think so many ppl use it.

  19. May 31, 2005 at 6:02 am

    Well, I think Opera is better. But somehow it did not make enough noise on its debut, so it is going to be Firefox for most of you.

    Anyway, let me tell you: I am no novice to browsers. My first website has been working for 12 years continously. I used 1200 bauds per second modems on BBS rings in my wild youth. I have seen BDSM, SCO and Linux raise unto the living. I witnessed the Mac to spread the gospel of enticing the user to happiness.

    And I agree 100% with “anonymous”, the Japanese gentleman. I am a Colombian engineer and I recognize eastern wisdom when I see it. Opera allows me to download around 120 Mb in four hours. I could manage around 35 Mb with Firefox.

    The difference: NOT the browser speed BUT the UI. It is soooo easy to open several pages, watch the tree of links, pick what you need and click on Quick Download. You can extract full bandwith all the time from your provider without innecesary clicking.

    I am positive you can do the same using Firefox but I was unable since November 2004 to February 2005 to make the damn plugin to work, after a couple of updates and missing profiles. Besides Firefox’s Adobe support is wrong by default, I think, and it took me the best part of a day to identify the problem. And so on… depending on your OS and machine. And, let me tell you, these machines are not so standard in this part of the world.

    Then one day, from the other side of my 56K modem I peered at Opera’s 8 download size: 6 puny Mb. “Yeah”, I thought, “I can do it with the ol’ Getright. If I took the 1 hour shoot for Firefox (and it rocks)…”. And then, if you could see the smile on my face…. Feature after feature I had to fight for in Firefox flowed from Opera screen without effort, like some sacred fountain.

    The Tao was right and the world was complete. I had come a long way since my early days, watching a tiny speck of light glowing in the darkness of the bitless void to the shining splendor of a world of information and knowledge.

    Talk whatever you want about Firefox: it is a humble companion to Opera in this new Universe and, even if his accolytes are numerous, they are going to have to learn from the tiny group of inspired programmers that developed the OPERA.

    One last of maybe many words:

    Firefox, could be said, it is democratic and brings forth the best feelings in men just by its “team design”. I may agree, but, using the same emphasis, you could also say that Opera proves that the human spirit is greater than the collective push, a very “Kasparovian” remark.

    I could not care less for the market: I love when a programmer SHOWS that he knows more than you about your own thinking. Besides, market sucks for taste. Try the “100 most famous movies” list vs the “100 top sales movies” list.

  20. December 1, 2006 at 1:17 pm

    I’ve basically been doing nothing worth mentioning. Not that it matters. I just don’t have anything to say these days. I’ve just been hanging out waiting for something to happen. Not much on my mind these days.

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