According to a source close with Pocket-lint, Facebook is said to be on the prowl to acquire Opera Software, maker of the Opera web browser.
There are a few reasons for why this sounds plausible and one or two for why it doesn’t. The most obvious reason that lends any validity to this rumor is the fact that Facebook’s money has been burning a hole in its pocket lately. In a little over a month, Facebook has acquired or absorbed Lightbox, Karma, Bolt Peters, and, perhaps most notable, Instagram. The company just ballooned its coffers after the company’s initial public offering one week ago and, in spite of seemingly everyone except Facebook being very upset with the its shares’ performance so far, Facebook does have some more money to burn.
More, Facebook has been upfront about the fact that it’s losing revenue traction due to more users accessing the site via mobile app than through the actual webpage. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, heading into the company’s IPO, tried to assuage investors’ concerns about Facebook’s mobile problem by telling them that the mobile frontier is the company’s top priority. If Facebook were to pick up Opera, the acquisition would add a very established mobile browser to the company’s inventory of mobile tools. Also, assuming that time is of the essence in turning Facebook’s mobile platform into a source of revenue growth, purchasing a respected browser like Opera would curtail any time lost spent on building a Facebook browser from scratch.
Beyond adding a slick, respected browser into its quiver, an acquisition of Opera would give Facebook a really nice browser-based email client, too.
It’s been all but officially verified by Facebook that it is developing its own search engine, too. Analysts have already speculated that a Facebook search engine would take a huge bite out of Google’s dominance of internet search. Combine a Facebook search engine and a Facebook browser and a Facebook email client and, well, you’ve got yourself some pretty plump Facebook fruit to attract advertisers.
Plus, if Facebook really wants to take a legitimate run at toppling Google, this would be a pretty firm push in that direction.
However, Facebook’s passed on big-time purchases before. Microsoft reportedly tried to sell its search engine, Bing, to Facebook last year. Zuckerberg declined the offer, though, saying that Facebook had too much on its plate at the time.
Facebook’s plate has hardly gotten any less crowded since then; really, the company’s added a second and third helping onto the plate without even clearing off what was there in the first place. Between the IPO mess and the impending class action lawsuits happening as a result of it, an FTC probe into the company’s acquisition of Instagram, and trying to find a way to earn back investors’ trust, Facebook’s got its big, blue hands full.
In the end, it’s a matter of what Facebook wants to prioritize: cleaning up its act with its nascent yet lackluster existence as a publicly traded company, or trying to keep moving forward with its agenda as a technology company. Then again, the company could take the Double Dare challenge and go after both goals at once. Not impossible, but it could lead to some haphazard decisions.
For what it’s worth, Thomas Ford, Opera System’s senior communications manager, says Opera Systems is mum on the subject of a Facebook acquisition. He told WebProNews, “We do not respond to market rumors and we have no comment to the rumor addressed in the question.”