Opera goes free…er!

Opera goes free...er!Well, this is Take 2 of this post, so excuse me if I hurry through it. Apparently eating your own dogfood can be somewhat painful. Oy.

Anyway, I was writing about announcing that it’s making its flagship browser free… er. And what it means…

But then crashed. Damnit.

Oh well.

So I’ll try to make this quick: my contention is that, first, Opera must remove the banner ads if they want anyone to keep using their browser (at some point, speed and security become somewhat less salient selling points when the overall experience of using your product is downright insulting — yes, I’m an AdBlock diehard). That and, according to fellow Flockers Ian and Manish, their mobile business is doing just fine, so charging for something that they want to spread the adoption of doesn’t really add up anymore.

Though they claim that “Opera fans around the globe made this day possible,” for some reason, that sentiment rings hollow to me. While they do boast a shiny community site, I dunno, I personally prefer the rough and tumble aesthetic of my old haunt, Spread Firefox. It wasn’t perfect and it hasn’t had much going on since I left this past spring, but it did feel more alive to me than the community that apparently got Opera to go banner-ad free. I mean, if that’s there biggest achievement to date, whoopee?

The Ajaxian blog asked a pertinent question about this move: “Does anyone care?

Aside from a few handfuls of people who will be happy to see the banner ads go from their browser, I’m not sure that there are that many folks left who haven’t already paid for the license who will care. While we might see another percentage point increase in Opera adoption as a result of this move, it doesn’t strike me as significant as coming out with a better narrative for their browser.

I mean, with Flock, we’re pretty clear on what our vision is: we’re building the social browser. What does that mean? Well, it’s an evolving thing for sure, but I know that as long as you have the ability to pull down content from the web, you should have the tools to respond to it or quickly and easily tell your friends about it. Though some of this functionality already exists in nice apps like Ecto, MarsEdit and Cocoalicious (all of which I use), there’s still something lacking in the workflow that would allow us to treat our blogs more like distributed conversations, rather than one-off statements. And no, track- and pingbacks are not enough!

In any case, I do welcome the addition of another… freer… choice — and I love that we’re finally seeing the beginnings of some real competition heating up in the browser space. Even the slumbering giant seems to be waking up, though I’d wager just in time to see David start slinging his stone. Heh.

Author: Chris Messina

Head of West Coast Business Development at Republic. Ever-curious product designer and technologist. Hashtag inventor. Previously: Molly.com (YC W18), Uber, Google.

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