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Web Browser Opera Denies Buyout Rumors

Posted by inet - 2005-12-28

Oslo-based browser maker Opera has issued denials of a buyout, in the midst of persistent rumors that Microsoft and Google have both targeted the company for acquisition.
Reports of pending acquisition have been cropping up on Web sites and blogs, fueling speculation that the company is not only up for purchase, but also has actually already been bought and is waiting for its buyer to announce the deal.

Analysts have noted that such an acquisition would be a smart move for Microsoft, which would be able to incorporate Opera's unique technology into the next iteration of Internet Explorer.

Officials at Opera have denied that the company has been purchased, and have stated that they are not interested in Opera being acquired.

Niche Market

If Opera is being eyed for acquisition, it would likely be because the browser's mobile version, Opera Mini, has become so popular with phone makers.

Opera is the leading browser for telemobile devices, the company claims, and has partnerships with Nokia, Motorola, and a number of Japanese and Chinese phone and device manufacturers.

Because Opera is a "small browser," meaning it is straightforward in terms of function and does not take much memory, it is well suited for devices. Browsers like Internet Explorer, by contrast, can be too graphics-heavy for PDA users, which limits the browser's use on mobile devices.

The Opera Mini was released for broad public preview just days before Christmas, and is scheduled to debut in January. So far, it has only been available to Scandinavian and German users.

Small but Sturdy

Opera currently maintains only a very small slice of the browser market, but a shift in September to an ads-free, non-fee model helped to boost its popularity, according to Tor Odland, Opera spokesperson.

"Firefox has shown how an alternative browser can succeed and thrive," he said. "We think the market is ready for more competition to Internet Explorer."

The company is fiercely independent, he noted, and he characterized any buyout rumors as industry gossip.

"We have many plans for the future in terms of what we'd like to do with the browser, and directions for development," he said. "We look forward to carrying out those plans."

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