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Why Opera would make sense for Facebook

Amid rumours that Facebook is considering building its own smartphone and is looking to acquire facial recognition service face.com comes another and arguably more sensible bit of speculation. Facebook is said to be looking to acquire Opera Software in a move that could give it a leg-up in the mobile browser wars and a means to better monetise its increasingly mobile user base.

The acquisition makes sense on a number of fronts. Firstly, Opera makes browsers for a wide range of devices, including feature phones, smartphones and televisions. Moreover, it’s available for every major mobile operating system, including Android, Windows Mobile, iOS, BlackBerry, Symbian and Java ME.

Secondly, the Opera Mini mobile browser is known for its excellent support of HTML5 and its data compression capabilities — where pages are cached by Opera’s own servers — which is part of the reason it’s made it into Apple’s App Store while Mozilla’s Firefox and Google’s Chrome browsers haven’t.

Though the desktop browser war is still being waged, it’s a well-established conflict. The new battleground is mobile and even Yahoo has realised this having recently made its first foray into the mobile landscape with Axis.

Then there’s Opera’s ability to serve advertisements to mobile devices. In 2010, Opera acquired AdMarvel, a company that specialises in serving, managing and tracking mobile advertising.

On Tuesday, Opera’s share price leapt as much as 22% on talk that Facebook was considering an offer. Analysts suggest Opera Software could cost Facebook more than US$1bn, but considering the social network recently spent that on Instagram — and Opera arguably has far more to offer — that might not be too rich for Mark Zuckerberg’s tastes.  — (c) 2012 NewsCentral Media

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