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Opera aims for growth in mobile device market

23 декабря 2010

Norwegian Internet browser vendor Opera Software ASA aims to boost its position in the fast-growing mobile device market segment to gain market share from its larger rivals, Chief Executive Lars Boilesen told Dow Jones Newswires.

Opera Software, which started as a research project at Norwegian telecom operator Telenor ASA in 1994, has since grown into a listed company with around 700 employees and a leading position in the market for mobile phone web browsers.

Compared with rival browsers like Microsoft Corp.'s Internet Explorer and open-source Firefox, Opera's share of the market for desktop computer browsers is tiny, at around 2%-3% or 50 million users, according to Boilesen.

Still, the company, which started to focus on browsers for mobile devices in the late 1990s, today offers the most widespread web browser in that segment, with around 90 million users and a market share of around 25%, Boilesen said.

Sales of mobile phones have grown rapidly in recent years, especially so for smartphones with features like web browsing and access to online application stores, such as Apple Inc.'s iPhone and devices based on Google Inc.'s Android platform.

According to research firm Gartner, global handset shipments grew 35% year-on-year in the third quarter to 417 million units, while smartphone shipments almost doubled, to 19% of total handset sales.

Mobile phones are turning into the main platform for Internet access, said Boilesen, especially in emerging markets such as India, where there are some 10 million PCs but 500 million mobile phones.

In the third quarter of 2010, Opera's total sales grew 32% from a year earlier to 178 million Norwegian kroner ($30 million), as user numbers for its Opera Mini branded browser, geared towards more basic mobile phones, doubled to 71 million.

"We have extremely high ambitions for the number of users we should get," said Boilesen, adding that "the biggest growth is clearly coming from mobile phones."

In order to boost its growth in the mobile phone segment, said Boilesen, Opera is betting on cooperation agreements with telecom operators, which pay license fees to install co-branded browsers in their devices.

Many operators are striving to win over service business from phone vendors with online application stores, such as Apple and Nokia Corp., so they install Opera browsers that promote their own service offerings on the browser home page, he added.

Opera has so far struck deals with operators including Telenor, Vodafone Group PLC and AT&T Inc., Boilesen said, adding that he expects that part of the company's business to develop strongly as the number of mobile Internet connections grows.

Источник: Total Telecom

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