Opera Could End If Google Sings

    December 14, 2005
    WebProNews Staff

When it comes to market capitalization, Google is definitely a prima donna of substantial girth; the next aria it sings could be a swan song for the Norwegian-made Opera browser.

Il Truccatore, The Master of Disguise. Il Truccatore (ten.), a mysterious nobleman, causes scandal in the city when he woos high-born ladies while disguised as their husbands. However, Laura (sop.), the new bride of Capriccio (bar.), refuses to give in to his blandishments --
-- Henry Lawsy tries to make sense of an opera program in Terry Pratchett's Maskerade

Gary Price at Search Engine Watch brings attention to an interesting rumor that involves the Opera web browser. Google could be ready to announce it is acquiring the company.

Opera has a small following, less than that of Mozilla’s Firefox, which is a distant second in market share to Microsoft’s Internet Explorer. Price cited it as the browser he uses all the time; I’ve become a fan of Opera as well. Until September, Opera was available in a free, ad-supported configuration as well as a paid product.

That changed with Opera’s tenth anniversary, where the company gave away free license codes to remove the ad banners as part of a 24-hour celebration. Then, Opera announced the ad-free version of the browser would be free for anyone to download.

It was a surprising change for Opera to make, and it took some sleuthing from Om Malik to find the real reason for the offer: Google was paying Opera in exchange for being the default search option, as it does for the same placement in Firefox by paying Mozilla a reported $30 million annually.

Price conjectured that Opera’s presence on mobile devices like smartphones could be a factor in Google’s rumored interest. Also, Opera recently made an AJAX development kit for mobile developers available; Google services like Gmail and the personalized Google homepage make extensive use of AJAX programming today.

UPDATE: Reuters has been reporting Opera’s CFO, Christian Jebsen, as saying Opera has not been approached by Google or any other companies about a takeover. “We have heard the rumors but know nothing more about this,” Jebsen said in the report on Dec. 15th.

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David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business.