Chandrakant 'CK' Isi
16th Oct 2011
Opera may not have made a big impact in the desktop browser space, but it's one of the most used browser on mobile devices with over 158 million users. Out of these, around 128 million users are served by Opera Mini's servers, which reportedly handle more bandwidth than what's generated by most countries.
Needless to say, setting up and maintaining such a setup costs a lot of money. Despite this fact, Opera doesn't charge its users a single paisa. It isn't exactly the World Bank, therefore one wonders how this company manages to generate revenue. That's why I decided to have a word with Mahi de Silva - the man who helps Opera make money by attracting nearly 20 billion mobile ad requests each month.
I caught up with de Silva at the browser maker's Up North Web 2011 event in Oslo. What follows is brief QnA session with Opera's Executive Vice President, Consumer Mobile. Assuming most readers won't be interested in knowing revenue numbers, I asked him few Opera centric and casual questions.
Which Mobile platform do you prefer personally?
This is the nature of my business, so I carry an iPhone as well as an Android phone.
That was rather diplomatic, but which one of these two do you really prefer?
My Android phone is an HTC 4G. That's what I carry with me, but I tend to use my iPhone more.
Which platform drives the most traffic to Opera?
In terms of platforms, if you look at the Indian market, we have a lot of traffic coming from Nokia devices. Either Nokia's Symbian devices, or Nokia Java (Series 40) phones. So that tends to be majority source of traffic.
From what I've read about Amazon's Silk browser, it sounds similar to Opera Mini. What's your take on it?
Yeah it sounds very similar to Opera Mini. It generally sounds that way, although we haven't actually seen it. I think when we get it, we will be able to tell a little bit more about how they are different. It is like the Opera Mini that we had released in 2005, so we are flattered that Amazon has decided to do something like our product.
What do you make of GetJar's ban on your browsers?
This is something that had happened earlier in February this year. They basically said that we can't promote an application promoting another app store. We are happy to work with GetJar, but we can't fulfil this requirement. That's why our browser has been blocked, end of story.
Does the iOS version of Opera link to the Opera Mobile Store or to the Apple App Store?
It links to our app store. We have the ability to promote apps in our app store. However, since iOS is locked down, we cannot take binaries from anywhere except iTunes. That's why we have to redirect users in such cases. Therefore, when you click the Install button on an iOS device, you end-up on iTunes to get that content from the iTunes store.
Mozilla is reportedly working on a mobile OS. Does Opera have a similar plan?
Well, we don't believe that the future is in building an OS. We think that the future is really focusing on browsing and HTML5 runtime.
But still, doesn't Opera branded handset range sound like a good idea?
The question is how much value do we offer to the OEM and the consumer community in building an OS. We don't think that we can deliver that much, but we do believe that [we can] in the browser experience and HTML5 runtime experience. Our focus is on how people can develop widgets instead of worrying about the OS that has to manage the radio, battery, and storage. We focus on managing web content, and we think that web content usually transitions to HTML5 content and that's where we will focus on.
What do you prefer Windows or Mac?
Netbooks or tablets?
I personally own an iPad, but I need a laptop because of its keyboard and broader functionality. I don't see [myself using] a netbook in the near future, because a netbook is too close to a laptop. I could see myself moving over to just a tablet instead.
Interview: Mahi de Silva, Executive VP (Opera)
The Opera executive sheds light on the GetJar ban and the company's interest in HTML5.
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