Opera Mini – How it Captured the Mobile Browser Market Share

This post shall cover the story of the massive success of Opera Mobile (for this article Opera Mobile and Opera Mini will be clubbed together under the umbrella of Opera Mobile), which has now become the most downloaded Java Application in the world.

This is the third part in the the “Ten Years – Ten Products – Ten Million Lessons” series. To start with I would admit, this isn’t the best example which fits in our theme of Tech-Startups, but for the lack of great alternatives in 2000 we shall take the case of Opera Mobile.

First considering the challenges that they faced, the primary fact that comes to mind is to make the user change the default, no matter how great their product is. (Firefox has still just half the number of users as IE)

It must be noted that over here, that the product was actually the USP and not their marketing strategy, things that it offered in terms of technical innovations were:

  • It greatly enhanced browsing speeds by fast rendering and server side compression
  • It saved user money (i.e. bandwidth)

As we had seen earlier in case of Napster any product “Which saves cash + Enhances Productivity”, a seemingly paradoxical combination, provides a motivation enough for the user to spend the effort in trying it out.

One often overlooked point about opera mobile version is that they offer it across platforms, which effectively meant that when a user switched his phone, no matter what it was, he could still have the convenience of a know user interface. So it effectively meant that a user made the effort to make the change to prevent a change in his habits. A cross platform offering is something which immensely increases your user base in long term, whether your offering is on a desktop or mobile platform.

To further counter the challenge of making users adopt their browser instead of default, they went into massive partnership agreements to offer opera mini bundled by default with the phone.

The company clearly knew their USP (opera even on desktop is by far the most innovative browser, first to introduce tabs, mouse gestures etc) and knew their primary problem, and made a conscious focussed effort to counter the same. Think I missed something, pen it down in the comments below…

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