I have to confess, I haven’t paid much attention to Opera Software until recently. The Norwegian company has been an also-ran in the browser market for 13 years. On Friday, I had a chance to sit down with its co-founder and chief executive, Jon Stephenson von Tetzchner. I can’t say that I’m convinced that Opera is now poised to take the Web by storm, but his take on the browser world makes good sense and paints a picture of a future with browsers everywhere.
As a company, Opera focuses on areas where Internet Explorer and Firefox are hardly to be found. Some 80 percent of its business is browsers for mobile phones and other devices that aren’t computers. It has relatively few users in the United States. Its PC browser is particularly popular in central and eastern Europe. One reason is that the browser is optimized to run on old computers with slow connections.
Mr. von Tetzchner said the main reason that Opera has not done better in the United States is that it had to compete first with Microsoft and then Firefox, both of which gave browsers away free.
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