Friday, May 06, 2005

Understanding Opera

Opera Software, ASAI'm pretty picky when it comes to technology, and friends of mine know that I'm a fan of the Opera web browser, produced by Opera Software, ASA. The latest version, Opera 8, was released on April 19th, 2005. When I say that Opera is the best, I definitely mean that it is the best for me, based on my particular needs and wants when it comes to internet software.

I believe in software diversity. Since no two people use the internet exactly the same way, there needs to be different solutions for different needs. From my perspective, Opera is underappreciated, underexposed, and an underdog when it comes to alternative software choices, so I routinely feel compelled to tell people that Opera might be a good choice for them. Except for a small minority of friends, I typically find that it is. It's certainly the best choice for me.

I'll save my "Why do I use Opera" discussion for later, but I wanted to point readers to some resources to help them understand Opera (the company) a little better. Opera gets a bad rap sometimes. People don't seem to understand the company, what it's about, and what it has to offer.

I see Opera, the company and the software, as being innovative, exciting, and important for the future of the internet. Yes, it's an underdog (in the desktop market, specifically), but underdogs are important, especially when they exhibit the foresight demonstrated by Opera Software. AppleThey're kind of like Apple that way, underappreciated by the majority of computer shoppers, but well-loved by a cult following who realize how innovative the company is and how it offers a unique experience that goes beyond mainstream expectations of what computing is supposed to be like. [From a technology studies perspective, it's always interesting to follow alternative technologies and to understand why certain technologies get adopted while others are ignored. That's where social science comes in. Purely technical explanations are typically not enough.]

Companies like Opera and Apple push the envelope, going well beyond the ordinary and making sure that the powers that be (e.g. Microsoft) do not become complacent. Without competition from small (but hungry) players, the industry becomes monolithic, which hurts everyone in the long run. Companies like Opera support web standards, which ensure that small third-party players will always have a chance to contribute, resulting in a more robust software ecosystem. When one company or software product "wins" or completely dominates, everyone loses in the end.

Opera CEO The Apple Computer company is really interesting. Even though I don't own a Mac (not yet, anyway), I like reading about the company and watching Steve Jobs present keynote addresses at Mac events. Opera excites me in the same way. These aren't as glitzy as Steve Jobs keynote addresses, but here are some audio and video clips of Opera's CEO, Jon S. von Tetzchner (pictured right), and other members of the Opera team discussing the company and the Opera browser. People who are new to Opera and veteran Opera fans alike will learn a lot about the company from these clips.

  • Opera Software, Financial Year 2005 - First quarter presentation (4/29/05): view webcast

  • Interview with Jon S. von Tetzchner (4/15/05), by David Berlind ("Between the Lines" - article | MP3 download

  • Opera Software, Financial Year 2004 - Fourth quarter presentation (2/16/05): view webcast

Older quarterly reports can be found here. Some of them have associated webcasts (audio only, however).

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