Opera logoAcquisitions are not generally Opera’s style. The Norwegian browser company has done only around five  in its 15 years of existence. However, two of those were this year, first the $23m acquisition of AdMarvel, the mobile advertising company, in January and on Friday the purchase of FastMail, the Australian web-based email company for an undisclosed sum.

The modest spending spree represents an attempt by Opera to secure its position at an important technology transistion moment. It has always been a stalwart runner up in terms of desktop browsers, well-liked by a tech-savvy elite, but far behind the likes of Internet Explorer and Firefox in terms of user volumes. However, there is a chance for it to secure leadership in mobile browsing. Read more

The photo and video sharing trend, coupled with the growing use of high-definition video and higher megapixel cameras, means big files and longer upload times for users.

One way to avoid time-consuming transfers is to allow others to view files securely on a local hard-drive at home.

Opera’s Unite, incorporated in its latest browser release last month, turns a home PC into a media server, providing one option.  Another is the latest version of San Francisco-based Cloud Engines’ Pogoplug, unveiled today. Read more

Opera Mini 5Opera upped its efforts in the mobile browser wars on Wednesday with the release of the next version of its Mini browser – Opera Mini 5. The new version comes with a sleek new look, and features such as speed dials and tabbed browsing.

The Norwegian browser company still enjoys the top spot in the mobile market, with 25 per cent market share according to Statcounter. This puts it still just ahead of iPhone’s Safari browser, with 22.3 per cent.

But the competition is tightening. Mozilla is working on its own mobile browser, Fennec, while Research In Motion recently bought Torch Mobile to improve its browsing capability.  Microsoft is also understood to be improving its Internet Explorer Mobile browserRead more

(Update: Opera chief development officer Christen Krogh’s response: the centralised and decentralised Web will coexist. See below.)

There is something very uplifting about Opera’s vision of a Web that turns every user back into a node on the network, with all the rights and responsibilities that implies (this is the blog post today that explains the idea, and this is an inspirational video.)

The idea behind Opera Unite, in brief: every PC would act as a server on the Web. There would no longer be any need to upload your data to some internet company’s giant datacentre, it would stay under your control and be shared with other PC users through a peer-to-peer arrangement.

Isn’t this what the internet was meant to be like? Read more

You’d think that Microsoft’s rivals would welcome the company’s announcement that it will ship Windows 7 in Europe without an internet browser.

After 15 years (that’s how long ago it was that the US first forced Microsoft into a consent decree promising not to “tie” other products illegally to Windows) the software company has finally agreed to untie the browser completely, at least in Europe. It feels like a watershed.

So are the makers of Firefox, Opera and other browsers dancing in the streets? Not a bit of it. Read more

While François Truffaut harshly argued that Britain and cinema were incompatible terms, the same condemnation could justifiably apply to mobile phones and web browsers.

The two just haven’t mixed well. Displaying a standard web page on a small screen has often meant unacceptable squinting and scrolling. Data connections have tended to be slow and problematic, while the lack of multimedia plug-ins has ruled out video and audio being played. Read more