The Register had a chance to interview Opera’s founder and CEO Jon von Tetzchner last week. They discussed some of the challenges facing the company, as well as things they hope to accomplish in the future.
It was actually really interesting to read what Tetzchner’s take is on their competitors. There was a little bit of discussion on the iPhone, and a slightly larger portion dedicated to thoughts on Firefox.
Here are some of the more interesting things that I pulled from the interview:
Do you feel you’re falling behind?
We have by far the most used mobile web browser. Net Applications’ survey is showing Mini as the fifth most used browser in the world and in some countries it’s beating Safari, and others it’s beating Mozilla. The Nintendo Wii is also helping and we’re working on new version coming out.
We’re also spending time with the services, with Google and Yahoo! discussing compatibility.
Does Mini make money?
We’re not making money off Mini at this time. But we have achieved one billion page views, and so we believe we can have business models with Mini that don’t upset users. We make money through operator deals and the Yahoo! deal, for example. We’re also offering it on the server side. T-Mobile, Vodafone, Telfonica, all get specialised versions with their own front pages – and they pay us for the hosting.
How? [in regards to Opera’s efficient performance]
It’s easier to be efficient if you’re coding every piece of the code yourself. I’ve seen it myself. Someone on a core part strives to make their part really efficient; then someone on the UI side makes something simple but that makes heavy demands. It’s easy to think, "something I do doesn’t have to be that efficient", but it does. For example, in one of our builds we noticed the progress bar loading was taking up 25 per cent of the CPU.
I’m still amazed Opera has such a tiny footprint
This has been a focus for us – Opera runs on 10 year old hardware. But we noticed external code takes up time and we write our own libraries. There are libraries out there that satisfy a lot more different kinds of programmers – but when you use it your program becomes bigger and slower.
I thought that was pretty interesting how Opera Mini has had over 1 billion pageviews already. That’s pretty insane if you think about it, and if you’re wondering how they know the number of pageviews it’s because all site requests go through their servers where the pages are optimized and scaled for the best viewing possible on small screens. This even includes scaling images so that they don’t hog your bandwidth.
With Opera 9.5 Beta (hopefully) around the corner we might possibly see Opera tying all of their browsers together. For example, my bookmarks should get synced with their servers so that they are accessible where ever I am. Then when using Opera on the Wii or Opera Mini on my phone I would be able to access all of the bookmarks that I’ve already saved on my desktop. That should have been something on my list of "5 things that can make Opera better."