Free Newsletter

Opera reaches 300m users and converts to WebKit

Embraces Google's favorite standards - V8, Chromium and WebKit - leaving Mozilla and IE isolated in mobile


Published: 13 February, 2013

READ MORE: Opera | Applications (Browser) | Standards | Android

The Apple/Google duopoly has scored another victory in defining the mobile web, with Opera Software deciding to adopt the WebKit rendering engine they favor for its famous browsers. It will also use the open source Chromium framework which also underpins Google Chrome.

Opera is abandoning its own Presto rendering engine and will release a new WebKit-based browser, codenamed Ice, this year, initially for iOS. The Norwegian firm will also adopt Chromium at the expense of its own framework on the desktop, and its Carakan JavaScript engine in favour of Google's V8.

This marks a significant change of direction for Opera, which under the leadership of its founder, Jon von Tetzchner, was fiercely independent and proud of its own technologies. The company was one of those which did not line up behind Google when it acquired the originator of the VP8 technology, the basis of the search giant's WebM alternative to the H.264/5 video codec. Google promotes its own technology as the standard for HTML5 browsers, because it is open source while MPEG LA's H.264 is licensed. The shift to Chromium means that future Opera iterations will have built-in support for WebM, Ogg Theora and Ogg Vorbis media codecs, but not natively for H.264 and MP3.

However, WebKit has certainly won the browser war and Opera, which has just hit 300m users, needs to continue to build on that base, not play the plucky underdog. "300m marks the first lap, but the race goes on," said CEO Lars Boilesen in a statement. "On the final stretch up to 300m users, we have experienced the fastest acceleration in user growth we have ever seen. Now, we are shifting into the next gear to claim a bigger piece of the pie in the smartphone market."

That means pursuing its current strategies of getting its browsers, which are very efficient in terms of network and device resources, into handsets for emerging markets, often working with operators or midrange OEMs. WebKit makes it an easier sell to developers, since the only major mobile stand-outs are now Windows Phone/IE (which uses Trident) and Mozilla Firefox Mobile (Gecko).

Some of Opera's efforts were prefigured last year when Yandex, the 'Russian Google', released its own browser which combined Chromium, WebKit and Opera's Turbo engine, which uses server-side compression to reduce data strain on the network (and users' data charges). Opera and Nokia's Express browser for Series 40 are the outstanding examples of these efficient offerings, which will become increasingly important as large populations in emerging nations gain their first webphones.

Related Stories


  • email story Email
  • print story Print
  • digit digit
  • facebook facebook
  • Twitter Twitter
  • Linked-in Linked-In
  • Comments (0)


Add Comment
No comments yet. Be the first to add a comment!

    BYOD: Market Analysis and Forecasts

    An in-depth insight into the rise of BYOD policies within the enterprise and analysis of the impact the trend will have on IT departments,...

    Voice Command, Control and Search on Mobile Phones: Market Analysis & Forecasts

    This report provides a comprehensive insight into the growing importance of voice command, control and search on handsets, analysing...

    Data Centre Network Equipment: Market Analysis and Forecasts

    This report provides a global assessment of the data centre network equipment market. Besides assessing the key market trends, sub-markets...

    HetNet Market Summary & Forecasts: Macro Cells, Small Cells & Wi-Fi Offload

    Carriers are struggling to cope with the explosion of data traffic on their networks, and the additional deployment of LTE and legacy...

    Over-the-Top Communications: Threats & Opportunities for Mobile Operators

    This report examines the implications of widespread adoption of mobile over-the-top IP communications for mobile operators, handset...

    Portable Gaming Consoles: Market Analysis and Forecasts

    This report provides a global assessment of the PGC market. In addition to assessing the key market drivers, market barriers, vendor...

    Satellite Phones: Will Dual Mode Help the Phoenix Rise from the Ashes?

    Satellite phones have followed an arduous path since their much-hyped launch more than a decade ago. The hype was followed by an e...

    Mobile Widget Platform Market Analysis: Understanding the Business Case and ROI

    This white paper presents an analysis of the mobile widget platform market, as well as metrics supporting a mobile carrier?s busin...


You must be a registered user to post a comment. or
Username *
Email *
Comment *