back to article Opera Mini tops the iTunes chart, but can it make any money?

iPhone users are tuning to the Opera Mini browser, which now tops free apps polls around the world. But giving away a product isn't necessarily the best way to make money. Cult of Mac noticed that Opera's Mini browser was topping the charts, and promptly checked the 22 iTunes stores to confirm that Opera Mini is the number one …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Standard & Poor

    What a great name - think i am going to start pish & pileocrap - seems to work for them.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      S&P name

      Yes, standard and poor are not the sexiest words from a marketing perspective. Henry Poor published a guide to investing in rail road stocks in 1860. Luther Blake founded Standard Statistics in 1906 publishing cards with corporate news on them; news moved a little slower in those days. Poor's and Standard merged in 1941 and the rest is history ...

  2. Dan 55 Silver badge
    Jobs Horns

    On any other smartphone platform Opera could give away Opera Mobile instead

    Which still gains search revenue for Opera but doesn't cost them the bandwidth that Opera Mini does... but His Jobsness has decided he doesn't want other HTML or JavaScript engines on the iPhone.

  3. Charlie Clark Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Helping the operators

    S&P, along with Moodys and Fitch, is well-known for its accuracy in rating. If Opera claimed to be a mortgage broker it would probably be AAA+...

    Whatever, Opera may well get the blessing of the heavily hammered networks for saving bandwidth. There might even be the telco equivalent of the Negawatt, the Negabit, where telco's pass on a percentage of the saved bandwidth to Opera. There will also be a halo effect especially with the ease of synchronising bookmarks across platforms.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Mobile web traffic compression

      Yes Opera Mini cuts down on the amount of web traffic mobile operators must carry over their networks, just like Novarra. For those who charge users on a per kB basis this is not a huge advantage. But for those who charge a flat rate for all you can eat data it helps.

      However, some operators may prefer to buy web traffic compression servers from Openwave, Radcom and many others and operate these systems within their own network rather than outsource compression as a service to Opera. That way they wouldn't be locked in to a particular client browser. And they would have more control over the compression parameters - likely to appeal to the network engineers out there.

  4. Craigness


    Maybe it's topping the charts as people try it out. The question is, will it still be used in a month?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      My question is... would you believe anyone who said it is still being used in a month?

      1. Craigness


        on who says it, and what they base their announcement on.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Let me proof-read that for you

    "Operator-branded versions of Mobile and Mini do make money for Opera - the operator coughs between €1 and €3 per year for the privilege."

    Really, that generous? Opera must be laughing all the way to the bank.

    Bill, perhaps you could tell us the real figures please?

  6. Steve Evans


    Opera is very popular on the Symbian platform, has been for years. The Nokia N95 built in browser was always pants, but that didn't matter because Opera Mini worked on it brilliantly. Still does.

    If the USA had some Symbian handsets then I'm sure the market penetration would have been far higher by now.

    1. MacroRodent

      Old symbians especially like it

      Indeed, without Opera Mini, my aging Nokia 6680 would be totally unusable for web browsing: the bundled browser is a slow joke and many modern pages just kill it.

      it would be very bad it Opera were forced to discontinue this excellent service. For my part, I would be prepared to pay for it, if the prices is not too steep, something like 1€ / month would probably be ok with most users.

  7. twunt

    The answer...

    Craigness, the answer is no - its not even being used after 2 days on my iphone- its rubbish.

    It renders pages badly - text can't be read at all without zooming in, and zooming is jerky and impossible to control. Tap to scroll to the top of the page doesn't work, its ugly, and no use for secure sites.

  8. Chris 3

    As Craigness points out...

    Opera has managed to make sufficient kerfuffle about this release that lots of people are going to try it out.

    I downloaded it and tried it out, but I'm not sure how much longer it will stay on my machine. On this 1G iPod Touch it *is* faster than Safari - not hugely, but a bit. But the quality of text rendering is much worse. With Safari you can read text will the screen is zoomed out. With Opera it appears greeked. Therefore skimming a page is much slower on Opera.

    In summary: Quick but Dirty.

  9. MarkOne

    "On the desktop Opera is being besieged by Chrome and Firefox."

    What a load of nonsense. Opera's growth in the Desktop arena is 30% better than both Firefix and Chrome combined..

    "The Opera browsers are now used by more than 100 million people worldwide. After reaching this milestone in March 2010, there are 50 million Opera lovers on Windows, Mac and Linux computers, as well as 50 million people using Opera Mini on a wide variety of handsets each month. Year-on-year growth for Opera browser on desktop now stands at over 30 percent, measured from March 2009 to March 2010. The number of desktop users was measured during March 2010, resulting in an unprecedented 50 million unique active users.

    In addition, many more Opera users can be found browsing the Web on their game consoles, connected TVs and set-top boxes."

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Down


      Forgive me if I am a little sceptical of the stuff Operas own marketing drones churn out. I know nobody at all who uses Opera.

      Unique Active Users could just mean the number of different IP addresses they have recorded but most people are assigned an IP randomly by DHCP and which can change when it gets refreshed or the user changes ISP - unless Opera is data mining and marking each user somehow, just how do they confirm those users are unique?

      I have tried it, hated it, ditched it as have most of the people I know who know enough about I.T. to try different browsers. The only browser worse than Opera is Safari.

      Opera is the sole reason I don't browse the internet on my Wii as it is truly terrible. Tried Opera mini on Android and again, it's awful. The only time I have actually enjoyed using Opera was on Symbian as it was far better than the default browser and they actually did a good job with that version.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Downloads Vs users

        I always think the same whenever I read those highly dubious Firefox figures from Mozilla.

    2. Daf L

      Lies, damn lies and statistics

      A press release from a company does not provide good evidence to support their own point of view.nStatistics can be made to read almost anyway you want them to if you have editorial control over them.

      If I create a browser, a really rubbish one, that I put up on the web. One person downloads it the first year and then three people download it the second year. I now have a year on year increase of 300% - the fastest growing browser in the world, maybe?

      Personally I love the speed of Opera Mini on my Android, especially over GPRS. I can get basic info fast - in fact I just wish it could be set as the default browser as I often just want to quickly read something or check something out online. I could then use a full weight browser when on WiFi or HDSPA and need more features.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Desktop browser market shares

  10. Steven Knox

    And if Opera Mini were Opera's primary revenue source...

    this article would mean something.

    But Opera hasn't made significant money on any user-installed version of their browser for well over a decade; that's not their business model. They make their money from the pre-installed customized browsers such as the one for the Wii.

    The user-installed versions are simply leverage to increase market share to prove to corporate buyers that their browser really is a player in the market. And so far they've done well enough in that regards that the corporate buyers fully subsidize the free user versions.

    1. Solomon Grundy

      Good Point

      Opera doesn't make significant money from a free product. It is all a marketing gimmick.

      At the same time, no business generates significant revenue from giving their products away. There isn't a "big name" browser out there that is not funded by a traditional, money making, business. Opera is missing is the business part.... Probably because their management team is comprised of the biggest asshats and crybabies in the tech industry.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Opera's revenue sources

      I think the point of the article was that the number of iPhone downloads of Opera Mini is irrelevant from a financial perspective (slightly negative).

      As you can see from my revenue estimates for 2010, Opera Mini is just 5% of revenue:

      Desktop browsing (mainly revenue from Google for directing search traffic to its site) = 40%

      Mobile phone makers (for Opera Mobile installed on Windows and Symbian phones) = 8%

      Other device makers (eg TVs and game consoles) = 16%

      Mobile operators (eg AT&T for Opera browser and widgets pre-installed on devices) = 32%

      Opera Mini (mainly revenue from Google for directing search traffic to its site) = 5%

  11. Neil Greatorex

    being besieged by Chrome and Firefox

    Not here, I've tried Chrome & Firefox a few times after major point releases, but always return to Opera, which has been my choice of browser since v3, because C & F don't seem to be able to match Opera in the speed, reliability & feature stakes.

    It just works.... Tick, VG.

    Where's the red "O" icon?

  12. Joe K
    Dead Vulture

    Blah blah blah

    Opera has been in business for well over a decade, so i think they must be doing something right and know a lot more about the business than your average IT journalist.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Never heard of Symbian in 12 years?!

    I didn't take the article very seriously once it became clear the author doesn't think Symbian is worth mentioning and that Opera's mobile browsers revolve around Windows Mobile! Never mind the fact that Opera Mini is a Java app, the point being that the OS is totally irrelevant. There are plenty of NOS and other proprietary or obscure phone OSs that happily run Opera every moment of the day in some corner of the world.

    I think Opera are one of the few companies in the 21st century who still think of the bigger picture rather than let the bean counters squeeze every last penny out of every last aspect of the business and then cut out any tiny thing that doesn't make a big profit. Opera being so massively huge on the iPhone is wonderful news for them as it means more people get to hear about them and try their other products. Familiarity also breeds trust.

    If you've only ever heard of IE and Firefox and a ballot box pops up on your PC asking whether you want to use IE, Firefox or Balet, which one are you going to instantly ignore?

    People have been predicting Opera's imminent end since the 1990s. Analysts also gave us the Dot-Com bubble and the current recession. People also overlook other ways Opera has made money over the years. Opera used to be at the heart of Adobe Photoshop and the other Creative Suite apps because Adobe thought it was the most suitable cross-platform rendering engine for its apps. I gather that they only changed because they wanted to use their own Flash rendering engine as a matter of pride. Perhaps bits of Opera still lurk in there? Who knows. I bet Opera made a nice profit from Adobe over all those years though.

    And was it really a surprise that Apple accepted it? Surely anyone could see that it was inevitable, given Opera's super confident attitude and Apple's fear of what the EU might do if it pushed its monopoly too far. People often complained over the IE/EU business that they didn't pick on Apple. Obviously they didn't because Apple are such a tiny player on the desktop. But the roles are reversed in the mobile arena, and it could very easily be Apple that gets a whack whilst MS stand at the sidelines and get ignored.

    1. Gangsta
      Thumb Up

      Good Post

      Good post my friend, good post.

      That adds alot to think about. Apple scared of the EU; Opera's Survival; Opera within CS and the author omitting the fantastic Symbian OS.

      Bravo , Bravo!

    2. Solomon Grundy


      Opera is the single whiniest company in IT. While you do make several good points in your post you ignore the fact that almost every time Opera makes the news it is because they are complaining about MS/IE. Their entire business strategy is based on the success of IE and you highlight that fact in your last paragraph. It looks like it's time for Opera to cry about Apple for a while.

      Opera whines and hopes the EU will listen. I wish they would focus on product development instead of lobbying. Opera is a butthurt little company that will eventually (hopefully) go the way of Netscape Navigator and the IT world will be better for it.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Opera Mini is different to Opera Mobile

      I think there is some confusion between Mini and Mobile.

      Opera Mobile is a fully featured browser that Opera mainly sells to handset makers who are building Windows or Symbian based phones because the native browser on those OS is so bad. Opera gets paid per device the software is pre-installed on.

      Opera Mini is a free download that has been ported to many different handset OS. Some handset makers even pre-install it on phones but Opera does not charge them. They make money from the Google search shortcut on the browser home page.

  14. Alan Denman

    It is Opera Mini, designed for crappy phones.

    This is Opera mini, designed as j2me for uncapable phones.

    The advantage for the iphone is reduced data costs.

    At a price.

    Be thankful as proper browsers are banned on Apple-jacket devices.

  15. MarkOne

    re: Downloads!=Users

    Firefox's figures are based purely on numbers of downloads. I have downloaded Firefix 4 or 5 times, never use it regularly, just use it as a reminder how much faster and better Opera is. The unfortunate thing is, I am included as a Firefox user according to Mozilla.

    Typical Americans and their deceitful marketing.

    1. chr0m4t1c
      Thumb Down


      I've downloaded Opera and tried it from a couple of locations - therefore appearing with two IP addresses in Opera's stats.

      But then I went back to Firefox because I prefer the way pages look and I like a few of the add-ons.

      So that's -1 for Firefox and -2 for Opera from their own stats.

      Typical Norwegians and their deceitful marketing? No.

      Typical marketing people? Yes.

      Given that Opera is trying to be a business and Mozilla are trying to be a charity it's pretty difficult to judge which one is more likely to be deliberately fudging the figures, especially as they're measuring different things.

      Sure, the Mozilla figure for downloads doesn't represent actual unique users, but then neither does the Opera one.

    2. Solomon Grundy


      You do realize that Opera isn't an American company right? They play the same "downloads = users" game as everyone else.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Opera count is REAL users, not Firefox BS Download numbers

    Opera counts it's users by the browser.js requests and browser update checks that are cross-referenced against user IP addresses..

    Seems like a reliable way to count your users. Not like Firefox's misleading BS.

  17. John 62
    Dead Vulture

    server side compression and...

    Bill wrote, "Opera Mini offers a faster browsing experience thanks to server-side compression".

    The magic sauce is actually server-side rendering and then sending clickable pictures to the phone.

  18. jaredhouck

    Apple and Opera Mini just exposed your Medical Records

    It's really unfortunate that the features that improve Opera Mini's speed (unencrypted server-side processing) also create the biggest vulnerability for use of this app in health care.

    As many electronic medical records are now web-based, passing private health information around with a lack of end-to-end encryption is frowned upon by HIPAA regulations. Essentially, Opera can see/cache/log everything you do while using the Opera Mini Browser app, including every single medical record viewed through the Opera Mini app on an iPhone or iPad since Tuesday.

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