An Interview With Opera’s CEO, Jon von Tetzchner

By | August 20, 2007 | 4 Comments

The Register recently published an interview with Jon von Tetzchner and there are some very interesting questions and answers as well.

Andrew Brown, a big fan of Opera, wrote that he chose to move to FireFox because it was more compatible with new websites, partly citing Flickr compatibility. Do you feel you’re falling behind?


It’s a chicken and egg situation, which means we need to get more users.

I don’t want to agree with that. It’s not all about users. Of course, big market share helps a lot but let’s see the following situation:
Let’s say 1000 potential users decides to download Opera and surf their favorite sites, some of them found them incompatible with Opera. What they do? They are switching back. So you get more users for a week or so but then lose some of them due incompatibility with their favorite sites. Of course, market share still grows, but very slowly. As posted in 2007 July Browsers Market Share Results, Opera lost 0.02% of their market share that time. I tend to believe that decrease was not due the fact that users didn’t like Opera’s interface or features, but due incompatibility.

Opera can’t grow so fast due incompatibility with some sites.
Incompatible sites are incompatible due low Opera’s market share.
Paradox?

If Opera would get 20% of the market share in one night, this would help for sure. But that won’t happen.
So it’s up to Opera Software.

Another interesting answer was:

We just try to focus on our side. We’ve always focused on a somewhat richer interface. We’ve had a lot of negative comments ourselves over the years; for example, when we introduced tabbed browsing a lot of people said it doesn’t make sense. We’ve introduced things like zooming, mouse gestures and the like – and we find they find their way into other browsers; tabs found their way into IE7. We are being copied, but we would like to focus on features and giving users a good experience.

It’s fantastic that Opera is being copied, that means they are doing very good job in providing users best web experience, but how long can it happen? How long can you brainstorm and add new features without seeing rapid Opera’s market share growth while competitors with those new features becoming stronger (more popular). Why It’s Not Enough To Have All The Greatest Features?

Read an interview.


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Vygantas is a former web designer whose projects are used by companies such as AMD, NVIDIA and departed Westood Studios. Being passionate about software, Vygantas began his journalism career back in 2007 when he founded FavBrowser.com. Having said that, he is also an adrenaline junkie who enjoys good books, fitness activities and Forex trading.

  • http://www.server-mw.com.ar/universe/ Stahn

    Sites are incompatible because they don’t follow standarts. Opera is the most standarts-compatible web browser, but CEOs of Yahoo and such are jerks that make websites only for big market share web browsers, not towards standarts.
    That’s why Jon said “it’s a chicken and egg situation”. Opera is NOT at fault here. Of course, you can hack everything, but… That’s not the way to do stuff. Why? You fix it today, tomorrow is broken.
    And I can’t browse correctly this site with Opera, why? Because WordPress is made for Firefox, who isn’t capable of passing Acid2 test. Bleh,

  • http://my.opera.com/IceArdor IceArdor

    I also think that it’s important in any business model to consider your opponents. It’s ignorant not to. Thus, Opera really needs to be constantly comparing themselves against IE and Firefox if they want to be successful in the game. That’s how Firefox won over IE: addressing complaints of security holes, nonstandard coding, and difficult control over the IE browser. Mozilla took all the complaints from their competitor, addressed them directly by saying “If you don’t like all the crap that IE gives you, try Firefox,” and won the “alternative browser” title. Without directly comparing yourself against your competitors, you’re just another Opera browser… you can have the best features in the world, but no one will know about you.

  • http://www.favbrowser.com Vygantas Lipskas

    Stahn, well… Firefox 3 passes Acid2 and works with WordPress :-)

    I remember that I had no problems with Opera 8 or 7.5, maybe I was just using it too less time or something happened. I’ve found that new Opera versions got some problems with js, ajax.

    Anyway, if it’s due lame coding, then big market share won’t help, as not so skilled coders will code the same anyway.

  • sid

    “Anyway, if it’s due lame coding, then big market share won’t help, as not so skilled coders will code the same anyway.”

    actualy, no. bussines process of making a webpage looks like that – sales convince a customer that we can make him a webpage, middle management decides what should ‘be’ in that package we sell – supported browsers, tools used, database/enterprise solutions. middle manager decides about browser support based on stats available, if something is below statistical margin (like opera) it is dropped. because coding yet another browser costs more, because ALL browsers require quirks and hacks. ALL of them, that standard loving opera also. and gain is minimal.

    thats why market share IS important.

    stories about standard compliance, are just that – stories. who cares about some never to be used CSS3 selectors, when there is no overflow-x and overflow-y support? there are standards and ‘standards’. the paper ones are not important, real standard is what all the world does. and they use overflow-x, not [id=~whatever]+p.class>div.footer selectos. if you think that paper ones are important, and are W3C evangelist, then imagine world without innerHTML.