If you don’t read the New York Times, you may not know that Firefox has a two-page ad in today’s edition promoting itself. This got me thinking: with all the momentum behind Firefox, what is to become of Opera?
If I was working for Opera, how would I feel about Firefox? I don’t like Microsoft, so by that reasoning I’d like it. But where is my competitive advantage going? Out the window, it seems. There are now three major “alternative” browsers: Firefox, Opera, and Safari for Mac users.
Opera is different in that it has a paid version. Its tacit goal has always been to impress people enough with its functionality to get them to upgrade to the paid version. They’re still in business, so it appears to have been working so far. But will Firefox siphon these paying users off?
Opera’s sweet spot has always been some really great features. Tabbed browsing was a huge improvement…and then Firefox did it. Opera has come up with other things like Opera Show…but then Eric Meyer implemented that in CSS.
With the huge community of programmers writing plugins and extensions for Firefox, can Opera compete? Where is its competitive advantage? What are the major reasons to use Opera over Firefox, and — if there are reasons — how long before Firefox gets an extension to duplicate them?
Will Opera will start “pulling a Microsoft” and building proprietary extensions into their browser? Would that work? It “worked” for Microsoft because IE has a huge market share. Opera doesn’t have the users to make a proprietary extension work.
So what will become of Opera? I’ve used it, and I like it, but I really don’t see a future for it. It’s a crappy situation, to be sure. I’d hate to see that browser go away. Someone please tell me I’m wrong.