Software

Opera should give up on desktop browsers

Opera should give up on the desktop browser market and focus its time on developing for mobile phones, media players and similar devices

Opera should give up on the desktop browser market and focus its time on developing for mobile phones, media players and similar devices.

I've written before about how Opera Mini is hands-down the greatest mobile browser on the planet, but its desktop browser continually fails to attract significant market share. Opera blames Microsoft, citing the anti-competitive nature of tying Internet Explorer to Windows, which is complete nonsense since Firefox is massively popular despite Microsoft's dominant position.

But this week I realised Opera's desktop efforts were utterly futile. I tested Apple's new Safari 4 browser and benchmarked its JavaScript rendering speed -- it annihilated Firefox, Internet Explorer, Opera and Google Chrome in performance tests.

The article received complaints that I tested all the latest browser versions except Opera -- Opera 9.6 is the latest full release, but Opera 10 is in alpha and features an apparently improved rendering engine, and, in fairness, should've been tested.

So I did. And lo and behold, it wasn't at all impressive. It was beaten by Safari, Chrome, Firefox and Mozilla's Minefield, so I really don't see what the Opera fans are clinging on to. It may well be a good browser, and I genuinely believe it is. Plus Opera has always been innovative, coming up with a number of neat features.

But it's a futile effort, and I think with Google, Mozilla, Apple and Microsoft all on the scene, Opera's battle is more doomed than ever. It should take its clearly talented teams of developers and shift its focus to the mobile world where it can really thrive. It should focus on the types of devices it's already winning with -- the Nintendo Wii for one, and even the Archos handhelds -- and claim a dominant position.

That too may be in vain, what with the aforementioned behemoths all working in that space too, but I feel if Opera has any chance of success, it's there, and not on the desktop.