opera lies about being named pc world best browser || MAIN || n 63a, firefox in the lmc

June 08, 2005

opera and firefox

There have been a lot of people accusing me of hating Opera. They're simply wrong. I don't hate the Opera browser at all. I think it's moving in the right direction and for my use (and I suspect for many power users) it's the second or third best browser available -- depending on whether or not you have access to a Mac.

I have had every version of Opera on my machine for the last 7 or 8 years. I was promoting Opera on my personal website (and so was my wife) well into my Mozilla involvement (which began about 6 years ago.)

Like I've said in previous posts, Opera can be a very powerful tool for the most sophisticated of web users, but until very recently it's also been overwhelming in terms of user interaction complexity. I applaud Opera's move with 8.0 to simplify the user experience. That will certainly help attract some of the less sophisticated audiences (necessary if Opera wants to break out of the low single digits in market share.)

This was also the case for Mozilla. It wasn't until we made the move from the ridiculous complex UI (primarily the chaotic and overloaded menus and the franken-preferences) to Firefox with its powerful but lean feature set, that our growth rate among the less savvy web users started it's dramatic rise. The Mozilla Suite peaked at just a couple percent market share, down near Opera's territory. It simply wasn't going to ever be the right browser for a large enough audience to take share away from Microsoft (something that Firefox has been much more successful at.)

I'm a power user. So are most of you. We're all extremely sophisticated and appreciate all kinds of configuration and control. We love spending time learning about how to use our browsers more effectively. There is a market for browsers that cater to people like us -- it's us ;-) We love having our Firefox+extensions and our Opera browsers. We're an ideal target market for Firefox and Opera. Unfortunately, we're a very small market, and getting smaller as a percentage of the overall web population.

You and I are nothing like the overwhelming majority of browser users. Nothing. Most browser users (approaching a billion of them) don't need or want all kinds of configuration and control. They want to get on the web, take care of what they got on to do, and get off -- without difficulty, and most important, without having to learn new features to accomplish that. They understand the basics of entering addresses, clicking links, adding pages to their bookmarks/favorites, using the primary five buttons, and that's about it. They're not interested in learning a whole lot more. They want it to "just work".

As browser makers, Mozilla and Opera can do a lot to make the web a better place and to improve the experience that these users have when they get on the web. But most of that won't be accomplished by adding more user features and more complicated user interaction. Take pop-up blocking. When implemented correctly, pop-up blocking shouldn't require any user interaction 99% of the time. That's a great feature that should "just work" for the user. Anyone moving from pre-XPSP2 IE to Firefox or Opera will have a vastly improved experience of the web and they won't have to learn how to dig through menus or press buttons or anything like that. The more we do to make these kinds of improvements for "normal" users, the better we'll do at growing our user bases.

The big difference I see between Firefox and Opera today is that Firefox, like Opera can satisfy most of the power user audience (by virtue of the nearly 700 available Firefox extensions) but unlike Opera, Firefox is also ready to go, comfortable and capable out of the box, for "normal" users. Opera has made good strides with Opera 8's out of the box experience, but it still has a ways to go if it wants to attract users who fall into the biggest piece of the pie.

I don't hate the Opera browser. My criticism of the feature set and user interaction complexity is not intended to "bash Opera" as many seem to think. I've pointed out what I think needs to improve if Opera is to gain a significant user base. If you're paying much attention, you'll see that the people making the Opera browser also believe that it needs to be easier to use. The move away from complexity, between the 7.5 app and the 8.0 app, seems very much in line with making Opera easier to use and I think makes Opera viable to a somewhat larger audience. A bit more cleanup, and removing the advertising or dropping the cost much closer to 0, I think are necessary (though not sufficient) steps to becoming a mainstream browser. If Opera can start taking significant market share away from IE, I will be cheering right along with the Opera users.

Firefox isn't there yet either. We've got plenty more to do to make the web easier to use. We've also got a ways to go on improving our distribution channels. The next year is going to be crucial for Firefox and while I'm confident we're up for the challenge, we're not yet where we need to be.

update Ingrid Marson, over at C|Net has published a short article noting this post.

Posted by asa at June 8, 2005 01:31 PM
Comments

But which browser is better for power users? I still think Firefox but many will disagree.

Posted by: poynting on June 8, 2005 02:59 PM

Dont let the Opera fanboys get to you - if they can defend the recent opera marketing crap, they can defend just about anything and everything opera does.

I dont think your previous post was overreacting at all. Either it was a concious marketing decision, or a really stupid mistake. If its the latter, i'm sure someone is getting a tight slap on the knuckles.

Posted by: vfwlkr on June 8, 2005 03:01 PM

Oh, they haven't gotten to me. I just don't like being misrepresented and figured it was worth reitterating my motivations.

- A

Posted by: Asa Dotzler on June 8, 2005 03:02 PM

Asa, no matter what you say, your posts in your blog SAYS SOMETHING ELSE. Re****

Posted by: Mr. Bat. on June 8, 2005 03:05 PM

And change that previous post topic:

YOU are lying when you claim Opera are lying.

Posted by: Mr Bat on June 8, 2005 03:07 PM

>> They want it to "just work"

Problem is, Firefox in its current state doesn't. The user still needs to install Flash seperately, and I doubt my mom will try to download extensions. Which I've read can be a security risk anyways. I like the Opera way, of having as much as possible included in the basic installation. However, I do agree that the basic UI of Opera is way to cluttered. A Firefox interface with all the features of Opera would be nice, I think. :-)

My main point is, that Firefox is way to simple. I don't wanna install extenstions, plug-ins, or whatever you call it. It should "just work" :-)

Posted by: Thomas on June 8, 2005 03:09 PM

I lost all respect for you from your last post, and this post makes it seem like you're just sucking up to all the Opera fans (I'm one of them), and you're doing a bad job at it.

You could have pointed out that PCworld didn't have a best browser category more nicely, instead of jumping all over Opera, calling them liars. I could easily call Mozilla a bunch of liars. I could say, "Firefox calls itself the 'browser you can trust' yet there's an old vulnerability that resurfaced recently that allows cross site scripting," yet I don't. You know why? Because I know everybody makes mistakes, and no human being is perfect. You should know that also, and not jump all over Opera for making a simple assumption. A perfectly valid one too. Opera was the only browser in the web category (maxthon isn't a browser, it's a shell/browser plugin), so it is perfecltly logical to say that they won for best browser, since I believe there was a best browser category last year. It looks like Firefox got "best product" since it spread fast, obviously not because it is feature rich (I mean, come on. To get the functionality that Opera has out of the box, you have to install about 20 extensions).

Posted by: Louis C. on June 8, 2005 03:12 PM

"I don't hate the Opera browser"

BWAHAHAHA! You will know them by their fruits.

Posted by: Poop on June 8, 2005 03:14 PM

Mr. Asa Dotzler:


You don't like being misreprecented? but you dont mind misreprecenting others.

Huh?

Posted by: Mr. Bat on June 8, 2005 03:15 PM

poop and mr bat..... dont you two have better things to do than continue to troll in asa blog enough is enough already, if you dont like what's being posted in his blog well dont read it. no one forcing you to read it. everyone needs to let it go and move on, instead of continuing of arguing and dragging this on.

Posted by: Scorpion on June 8, 2005 03:28 PM

Sorry, I didn't know the comments are here exclusively to agree with Asa's posts.

If you don't like my comments, don't read it BTW. I will change my name to make it more noticeable, to help you avoid my posts.

Posted by: ___POOP___ on June 8, 2005 03:33 PM

So what if he WAS a little harsh when pointing out Opera's mistake? He has already explained that was because the title in question (to the extent it existed at all) was in fact awarded Firefox. No reason to go and make friggin 100 comments about it...

"It looks like Firefox got "best product" since it spread fast, obviously not because it is feature rich"

You mean because it has exactly the features most users want from a browser?

Posted by: David Naylor on June 8, 2005 03:39 PM

Louis, I'm not sucking up to anyone, much less the Opera "fans" that come commenting here so regularly. I can't imagine what purpose that would serve. Neither do I concern myself about what level of respect those "fans" have for me or my commentary here.

- A

Posted by: Asa Dotzler on June 8, 2005 03:49 PM

"You mean because it has exactly the features most users want from a browser?"

No, I'm saying Opera is more functional "out of the box" than Firefox. Why would they give "best browser" to Firefox when it doesn't even have, for instance, the ability to clear the cache on exit (which is NOT a new feature. Even IE has it). If all browsers just had what features users wanted most, there would never be any new features since users would never know about them.

Firefox isn't more secure than Opera either, so don't go telling me that Firefox got it because it was secure. Firefox got it because it was an easy alternative to IE, not because it's the best browser around, and I'm fine with that.

Posted by: Louis C. on June 8, 2005 03:51 PM

"Firefox got it because it was an easy alternative to IE,"

See - you said it.

Posted by: David Naylor on June 8, 2005 03:56 PM

"Louis, I'm not sucking up to anyone, much less the Opera "fans" that come commenting here so regularly. I can't imagine what purpose that would serve. Neither do I concern myself about what level of respect those "fans" have for me or my commentary here."

If you don't care about what the Opera fans think, then why would you bother with this post? I'm sorry, it just seems like sucking up in my eyes. Of course, I'm also sure that c|net's blog post had something to do with it.

Posted by: Louis C. on June 8, 2005 03:56 PM

___POOP___ I didn't know the comments are here exclusively to agree with Asa's posts.

Poop i didn't say that.. if you want voice your opinion go ahead. not everyone going to agree Asa. like i said i think we need to move on regardless what's been said. we shouldn't dwell on it any further weather your agree with him or not, it's over and done with already.

Posted by: Scorpion on June 8, 2005 03:59 PM

Wow, that was fast. You take an entire post to explain what anyone who has actually read your posting history (instead of reading into it with their preconceptions) would know already, and the trolls are already disregarding it.

I've been reading your blog for several months, and yesterday's was the first post I've seen that I could construe as an actual "attack" against Opera (or, in this case, their PR).

But people love to be offended, and some of them have made up their minds that you obviously hate Opera, so they'll see anything you say that isn't "I love Opera and I'm switching to it from this lousy Firefox thing" as an attack.

Seriously, try posting something like, "Opera's logo is red. Firefox, Safari, and IE are mostly blue." Leave it at that, and I'd be willing to bet you'll get complaints.

(Isn't the rivalry with Internet Explorer enough? Whatever happened to "The enemy of my enemy is my friend?")

Posted by: Kelson on June 8, 2005 04:00 PM

"See - you said it."

David, that's exactly what I said before, just with different wording. Firefox's fast spreading was because it was an easy alternative to IE, not because it was the best browser. I think "best browser" is a point of view thing, but if you're going by features and security, Opera wins easily.

Posted by: Louis C. on June 8, 2005 04:01 PM

Before Firefox, I liked the suite best. I used Opera for a while because I wanted a change, and it had a similar layout to what I was used to. Now I'm a Firefox user, and I don't have any extensions installed, nor do I require them. My life has gotten more demanding, and I want the computer to be less so. Firefox fit the bill. I also showed FF to a friend of mine who I was convinced would not be interested in switching from IE, but he shocked me and adopted it instantly. The simplicity sells it. My web browsing needs are simple, and Firefox provides for them. If this need for simplicity and immediacy is shared by the majority of users, then I have to agree with Asa that Firefox has it covered.

Posted by: Sean Jodrey on June 8, 2005 04:03 PM

Asa, unfortunately I think you may be missing the point with this most recent post. I think you have always been fair in your reviews and criques of Opera, all of which I've read. My concern was not whether you are a supporter or user of Opera, but rather the way in which you handled the misrepresentation posted on their website. Contacting Opera directly, or calling PCWorld to point out Opera's misrepresention would have been perfectly appropriate. Blogging with the title "Opera lies..." lacks professionalism. Moreover, these petty arguements make the Mozilla organization look bad and runs the risk of alienating users and the media (which has been essential to Firefox's success).

I realize that this blog blurs the line between a personal journal and a semi-official mouthpiece of the Mozilla organization and community. As such, I urge you to exercise more restraint when posting accusatory messages such as these. I hope that this blog and its readers can move on from this quickly. I will certainly continue to monitor your posts as Firefox nears 1.1 and beyond. Lets re-focus on what brought us here in the first place - a better browsing experience!

Posted by: David on June 8, 2005 04:10 PM

I seriously hope the small bunch of Opera zealots/trolls that frequent this blog aren't representative of Opera users in general... I'd hate that to be the main reason why their userbase is staying so small.

Posted by: ant on June 8, 2005 04:27 PM

I really don't see why you felt the need to justify your actions. The only people taking offense to your comments are complete idiots, as proven by the way they respond. The majority of Opera users I know accept my arguments about software usability, concede the point and continue using Opera because they feel no need to switch.

The people posting anonymously here are little better than plankton. Continually stirring them up isn't redeeming you in the eyes of sensible Opera users (who don't have a problem with you anyway) and it isn't helping with those who spend their free time attacking you and Firefox elsewhere on the Internet (because those people are irrational and thus immune to persuasion).

For what it's worth, I don't think this actually reflects poorly on either you or the Foundation. Smart people understand that the whole point of weblogs is freedom to speak your piece without it being a press release. Thos who don't understand this are likewise worth ignoring for the time being.

- Chris

Posted by: Chris C on June 8, 2005 04:32 PM

"I realize that this blog blurs the line between a personal journal and a semi-official mouthpiece of the Mozilla organization"

It's not supposed to do that - in theory it's a personal journal and any 'mouthpiece' activity is purely unofficial. Given the lack of stuff coming from official mouthpieces, it's inevitable that the unofficial stuff will get picked up...

"I seriously hope the small bunch of Opera zealots/trolls that frequent this blog aren't representative of Opera users in general..."

I doubt that they are. At least no more than the bunch of Firefox zealots that frequent both Mozilla blogs and forums, and also crop up trolling in the Opera forums. Firefox, if anything, seems to have more of them...

Posted by: michaell on June 8, 2005 04:35 PM

...and, Louis, which browser are we trying to outcompete, again?

I think Firefox's success can be attributed to two main points:

- It feels familiar to IE users.
- It has a huge geek following, thanks to being OS, easy to develop for, being standards compliant, etc...

These two in combination have resulted in the huge surge in usage. Geeks who love Firefox, and have X number of extensions installed, feel it's an easy sell to their mums, friends, girlfriends, etc since its so simple to use and because it feels familiar. (Don't underestimate the importance of Firefox's skin here. I think if Opera had a more native feel to it it would have had much higher usage share by now. Oh, and then there are the ads/cost...)

"I think "best browser" is a point of view thing..."

Well obviously.

"...but if you're going by features and security, Opera wins easily."

Yeah, if you want every frikkin feature on the face of the earth. The thing is, most people don't. In Sweden we have a word which describes Firefox beautifully: lagom. You could translate it as "just right". That's why Firefox won the PC World Product of the Year Award. That's also why it's doing so well.

"It looks like Firefox got "best product" since it spread fast"

You're confusing the cause of the effect here.

Firefox is just right -> Many users

Firefox is just right -> PC product of the year

NOT: Firefox just right -> Many users -> PC product of the year

Have you read any reviews of BMWs in the last few years? BMW invented this (in their eyes) wonderful thing called iDrive. It lets you control every single nitty-gritty little function in the car with no more than one, plastic knob. Sounds pretty sleek, eh? Well the press hated it. It was messy and non-intuitive. It probably seemed extremely cool to the people who thought of it and developed it, but to the driver who was supposed to be able to handle this while travelling at 60 mph down a country lane it was useless.

Opera may well hide most of its geeky features with the default setup (and this I admit it does well, although not as well as Firefox), but when you want to customize the toolbars the UI is very un-intuitive. Why is it Placement -> Off? Why can't i create toolbars of my own? A better default setup IMO would be to have no other toolbars than those shown as default, and then let the user create extra ones if necessary. Also, give me control of the placement and shape of the ad - as it is it jumps around and it is pretty tricky to get the toolbars the way you want them. Although, in the end, I think Firefox's theme and feel as well as being adfree are the main reasons for it catching on with loads of users. (It's hard for me to justify why my mum should have to look at google ads all day when she gets all the features she needs in Firefox...)

Posted by: David Naylor on June 8, 2005 04:39 PM

"removing the advertising or dropping the cost much closer to 0"

Sounds like a great suggestion - kill their primary income stream, lay off their developers and go bankrupt. It's such an obvious way to make Opera more successful... or maybe there's a flaw in that cunning business plan ;)

Posted by: michaell on June 8, 2005 04:45 PM

michaell: How about open-sourcing it? I really think that would work wonders for Opera. They already have the community, they just need to get them working on the code. In fact, the more I think about it, the more i feel that is the one way for Opera. I'd say they will go partly or completely open-source within two years.

Posted by: David Naylor on June 8, 2005 04:50 PM

> I dont think your previous post was overreacting at all. Either it was a concious marketing decision, or a really stupid mistake.

If it was a really stupid mistake, then what is the reasonable thing to do?

a) Email them to let them know about the mistake.

b) Publically accuse them of intentionally lying.

Seems like overreacting to go with b) as far as I can see.

Posted by: Jim on June 8, 2005 04:51 PM

michaell, for all your bitching about what others do, what do YOU actually do?!

Posted by: jim on June 8, 2005 04:51 PM

> How about open-sourcing it? I really think that would work wonders for Opera.

David, did you entirely miss Michaell's point? Opera's main source of income is through selling their browser. They can't magically supplant that by making something open-source.

Posted by: Jim on June 8, 2005 04:54 PM

David, I see what you mean, and I know Opera has a long way to go (mainly with the ads, which seems to be a major talking point amongst Firefox fans). However, I still don't think Firefox won because it's "just right". There's never "just right", there's never "best" (although there's "best at the moment") there's always "better".

Posted by: Louis C. on June 8, 2005 04:55 PM

Oh, and my response was for David's comment talking about my comment, not the thing about open-sourcing Opera, which can't happen. Opera doesn't have a billion companies supporting them like Mozilla does, so it would never last as Open Source, although it would be great if it could.

Posted by: Louis C. on June 8, 2005 04:57 PM

I'm interested if any of you who know about Opera's sources of revenu can point me to your data. I've heard from various sources that their primary source of income was from licensing their embedded browser on devices like cell phones. I'm interested, since you all seem so confident about this, if you could point me to any official sources. Thanks.

- A

Posted by: Asa Dotzler on June 8, 2005 05:00 PM

"although there's "best at the moment""

Exactly :-)

And why couldn't Opera go open-source? They'll get loads of free work done, and they could probably rely on donations as well as the (substantial?) income from all the mobile makers wanting to put little tiny operas everywhere ;-)

Posted by: David Naylor on June 8, 2005 05:02 PM

"Firefox's fast spreading was because it was an easy alternative to IE, not because it was the best browser. I think "best browser" is a point of view thing, but if you're going by features and security, Opera wins easily."

You're missing the point entirely. Firefox does what IE does, but better and with a few key additions. This is precisely what makes it the "best browser" in the eyes of most.

Adding lots of features doesn't make your product "better" for the average person who could just about stumble through using Internet Explorer, it merely confuses them. Now let's consider that you're in the position of the reviewer who is writing for the benefit of the non-geek market.

Do you give "product of the year" to a browser that nearly everyone will be able to use and understand, or the one with the most extras? The answer is clear. Opera is a great browser but you're kidding yourselves if you think the *average* person can use it in it's default state.

If you think that Asa is wrong about this, install Opera and Firefox on a selection of computers used by relatives who aren't highly computer literate and observe how long it takes to achieve a simple task on the web in each browser.

Posted by: Ben Basson on June 8, 2005 05:06 PM

asa, about 30% of operas income is from desktop. Looki here: http://www.opera.com/company/investors/finance/2005/1Q05_presentation.pdf

Posted by: Toman on June 8, 2005 05:12 PM

"You're missing the point entirely. Firefox does what IE does, but better and with a few key additions. This is precisely what makes it the "best browser" in the eyes of most."

Well put.

Posted by: David Naylor on June 8, 2005 05:13 PM

"You're missing the point entirely. Firefox does what IE does, but better and with a few key additions. This is precisely what makes it the "best browser" in the eyes of most."

Exactly. Having more features dosen't make a browser better.

Posted by: Jason on June 8, 2005 05:18 PM

Ok, that was obviously an exaggeration. Having looked up the numbers (which are at http://www.opera.com/company/investors/finance/ - I just looked at the 2004 annual numbers where the income breakdown is on page 16), it's breaks down as 1/3 desktop to 2/3 embedded devices. Still doesn't mean they can afford to give the desktop side of things away - I can't see that bumping up their desktop market share a little by getting rid of the ads is going to compensate financially.

Posted by: michaell on June 8, 2005 05:19 PM

"removing the advertising or dropping the cost much closer to 0"

Sounds like a great suggestion - kill their primary income stream, lay off their developers and go bankrupt. It's such an obvious way to make Opera more successful... or maybe there's a flaw in that cunning business plan ;)

Or maybe most people think $39 is too high a price?

Personally, I've never had to pay full price for Opera. When I first bought it I was eligible for a student discount, and since then, I've gotten the upgrade discount whenever I've needed a new license.

If I were an IE user looking at switching to Opera or Firefox, $39 would seem high. At $29 (OmniWeb's price) I'd seriously think about it. Drop to $20 (current price with student discount) and I'd have no second thoughts, and at $15 I might snap it up out of sheer curiosity.

Someone with actual skill in economics and some market data should be able to determine the optimum price point to get the most revenue. I'd guess it's $29, but who knows, maybe it is $39. I'd like to think Opera's sales department has already done this analysis. But as I understand it, paid users are a small minority of Opera's current install base, which is mostly made up of people who don't mind the ads. (Sorry, I can't remember the source for that.)

The cost, whether in money or advertising space, is a barrier to adoption. Asa just said it, I've said it, reviewers say it constantly. But when it comes to Opera supporters, it's the proverbial elephant in the room. Simply saying, "Well, they have to make money!" isn't going to change that fact that Opera is in competition with products that cost, or at least appear to cost, much less.

Posted by: Kelson on June 8, 2005 05:21 PM

"michaell, for all your bitching about what others do, what do YOU actually do?!"

Not much... if actually doing something useful was a qualification for commenting around here, it'd be pretty quiet.

Posted by: michaell on June 8, 2005 05:22 PM

Opera would gain loads if they lowered the price to something like $4.95. Loads more users, and since each licence doesn't cost anything to produce, it would all be profit. They would need to get about 8 times as many users, but I don't thing that would be at all impossible.

Posted by: David Naylor on June 8, 2005 05:37 PM

Well, I just asked some people to make sure my facts are straight, and the 2/3 from embedded devices isn't enough to pay all of the developers (yet), so there would have to be layoffs or lowering the salary, and both would end up in less developers and a lower-quality browser.
Don't bring up opensourcing it again either, because that would just be more money lost, and yes, I'm pro-opensource (I use Gentoo from stage 1 and mostly open source applications), but it's not the right time for Opera in my opinion. I don't think it would be embraced as much as Mozilla has been.

Posted by: Louis C. on June 8, 2005 05:46 PM

"The cost, whether in money or advertising space, is a barrier to adoption"

I wouldn't disagree with that at all.

"Simply saying, "Well, they have to make money!" isn't going to change that fact that Opera is in competition with products that cost, or at least appear to cost, much less."

Agreed. But if the goal is to make money, then giving away your product isn't generally the best way of doing it. I'm sure Opera would love to have more users, but if that goal is secondary to making money out of the desktop browser, then they are doing the right thing.

The Mozilla Foundation may be achieving browser usage share in double figures, but how much money have it's directors earned from it? Does this mean that it's a failure?

Posted by: michaell on June 8, 2005 05:49 PM

I'm sure Opera would love to have more users, but if that goal is secondary to making money out of the desktop browser, then they are doing the right thing.

Good point!

Posted by: Kelson on June 8, 2005 05:53 PM

(thanks. it's nice to see some actual figures rather than bogus assertions about "main source of income" and "primary income stream")

Opera gets significantly less than half of it's income from the desktop browser. Unfortunately, you all are probably right (though you got your figurers quite wrong) that Opera cannot afford to just give away the browser and maintain the organization they have today. That's a shame because it means that Opera will probably not achieve any significant mainstream penetration until they can find a better revenue model.

I think that's also a useful distinction between Opera and Firefox. Opera's goal is clearly "making money" (and I'm assuming that just like corporations in the US, they're required by law to do what's best for their stockholders - make money, and not necessarily what's best for their users). It's really unfortunate that the desktop browser is a necessary revenue generator for Opera right now. It means that the money has to comes first and the user experience is secondary to that. The trade-offs may mostly be small, but the in-browser advertising is probably not small in the minds of the hundreds of millions of users who are using a browser without in-browser advertising.

I'm sure glad that Firefox isn't in that compromised position. Firefox gets to do what's right for the user first and foremost. Maybe Opera can find a way to do more with less or generate more from their embedded story so they don't have to sacrifice desktop user experience for revenue. Like I said in the top post here, I think that's a necessary condition for mainstream penetration and getting beyond the 1-2% market share it's got now.

- A

Posted by: Asa Dotzler on June 8, 2005 06:54 PM

"It's really unfortunate that the desktop browser is a necessary revenue generator for Opera right now. It means that the money has to comes first and the user experience is secondary to that."

"sacrifice desktop user experience for revenue"

Do you realise how silly that sounds?

You're saying that Opera are providing a user experience that isn't as good because they need to make money. Yet... how do they make money? By providing a desktop user experience that people want to use.

Really... what are you basing "user experience" on anyway, that it has been sacrificed? An ad banner at the top of the page? Or is it just that you don't like the way Opera works and hence that - and by virtual of your association - it HAS to be inferior.

You're full of it dude but I have to say when you put your mind to it you can weasel word the pretence of even handedness up there with the best of them.

Posted by: Andrew D on June 8, 2005 07:31 PM

If the revenue model they have is sustainable and their userbase is slowly growing (enough to ensure a future for the product and company), then maybe removing the costs and sacrificing the power-user featureset isn't something they'll want to totally commit to.

Posted by: Ben Basson on June 8, 2005 07:32 PM

Andrew, I'm very specifically talking about the in-browser advertising. It is clearly not for the benefit of most users to have permanent advertising in the UI of thier browser. It's bad enough for the user experience to have to deal with the in-content advertising. In-chrome advertising is a sacrifice that most people aren't going to make, so as long as that is the browser that Opera's offering, their market potential will be drastically limited.

- A

Posted by: Asa Dotzler on June 8, 2005 07:44 PM

Asa has gone over his head and too bad, he just can't see it. I am not Opera fan. I don't even like Opera. But, for anyone who has read the Asa's post in the last 6 or so months know, that this is NOT the same Asa a couple of years ago.

Asa feels so uncomplimented for his works. Blake/Mitchell gets all the credit for Firefox innovation. Firefox devs (Ben/Darin/Hyatt etal) get fat paycheck and jobs from top-notch dream companies like Google and Apple. But poor old Asa, with all his expertise, commitment and dedication to Firefox is not getting anywhere. Much less, Asa is not even not respected nor credited for among the Moz hackers/bloggers/press. So he is pouring his ego on his weblog, begging for attention.

Hmm., a lot of anger.. that's all i see.

Posted by: A longtime Moz hacker (Anon) on June 8, 2005 09:26 PM

"It is clearly not for the benefit of most users to have permanent advertising in the UI of thier browser"

Even given I accept that, that doesn't automatically make it to the detriment of most users. I know it's an old faithful argument fallback but it still doesn't work; just because you say it is don't make it so (even if presented with a pompous language).

The old comments I've seen about it taking away real estate are false at least when compared - in default installs - to Firefox; even with the ads there is more browsing space in Opera than Firefox. But that aside, this is a new one to me.

I'm used to people saying that they don't like the features of Opera or that it is bloated (funny) or not as innovative as other browsers (oh the hilarity), even that theres no way they would buy a browser. But someone saying specifically that the user experience is poorer because of the advertising...? Well. There we have it.

Posted by: Andrew D on June 8, 2005 09:33 PM

Asa, ignore the trolls above. You did nothing wrong, and you've updated the post to indicate Opera's withdrawal.

I do think Opera is still better in many ways - small screen rendering, faster with less memory leaks, generally more polished. But it's not free so I don't use it.

Firefox *can* be as good as Opera (not as good in some areas, better in others) - but finding and installing the right extensions is not a trivial task. I don't know if anything can be done about this, apart from incorporating a user-friendlier versions of popular extensions that everyone could find useful like AdBlock, SessionSaver etc...

Posted by: gracefool on June 8, 2005 09:53 PM

Thomas, every browser need to install plugin in order to view proprietary contents like Flash and Java. I don't think your mom if ever need to use any extension.

Louis C., Opera called itself "simply the best internet experience", and that's simply not true either. Who defined the word "best"? In what way? At least, Opera doesn't show up chinese characters in unicode properly, and it doesn't recognize the print stylesheet in my homepage. So, it's still the best internet experience?

So stop being picky on every single sentences on the webpages. We all know that it's just marketing.

Posted by: minghong on June 8, 2005 10:05 PM

Andrew, that's about the funniest thing I've read in weeks. You're seriously suggesting that Opera's in-browser advertising isn't detrimental to the user experience? Wow.

Wow.

- A

Posted by: Asa Dotzler on June 8, 2005 10:06 PM

Too late, you've still lost the respect of many people, including people who contribute to the firefox community.

Anyone who follows your blog closely and is capable of critical thinking should be able to figure out that you did not have ill intent. Unfortunately, many people seem to lack that capability. So what you get is a perception of Opera from reading your posts about it by those who are not familiar with it and/or have not used it. A negative perception. Since you are an "employee" of the Mozilla Foundation, you are in a trusted position.

THIS is why I and others have lost the respect. You may not see it, but some of us do. Just look at some comments in some of your entries from firefox fans, and other blogs/forums around the globe. Look at bangbang's response to all this. He is a firefox user and creates unofficial optimized builds for the community, yet he has lost respect for you.

I guess you can blame it on the influence of Post Modernism on todays culture and the internet.

Posted by: vcv on June 8, 2005 10:45 PM

Opera funboys go stuck in your crappy forums and stay away from here, you are putting the blame on opera browser, which I use and like, even if Firefox is my primary and default browser.

Posted by: vergot on June 8, 2005 10:45 PM

The difference between Mozilla and Opera is that Mozilla will actively use lies, especially about other browser vendors, in their PR. Opera may make a mistake, but won't intentionally lie.

Posted by: Sigh on June 8, 2005 11:07 PM

"But someone saying specifically that the user experience is poorer because of the advertising...? Well. There we have it."

The user experience is definitely poorer because of the advertising. I'd wager a good number of people that pay for Opera do so because they like the browser but hate the ads... not out of any desire to support the company. The ads are distracting. The color changes always pull my eyes from the page. I don't think we're alone in saying this, either.

Perhaps a personal/business setup... where individuals at home can have it for free but businesses have to pay... might be a possible licensing option. McAfee started off this way.

Posted by: John T, Haller on June 8, 2005 11:37 PM

"They're required by law to do what's best for their stockholders - make money, and not necessarily what's best for their users"

What a load of crap. First of all, Opera is a NORWEGIAN company, so don't impose US laws on them. Now, THE WAY OPERA MAKES MONEY IS TO DO WHAT'S BEST FOR THEIR USERS!

Unlike Mozilla, which makes money by being in the pockets of big business...

Opera is the only INDEPENDEND BROWSER VENDOR WHICH NEEDS TO DO WHAT'S BEST FOR THEIR USERS TO SURVIVE.

Posted by: FUD FUD FUD on June 8, 2005 11:42 PM

Mr & Ms Opera Fanboys and Fangirls,

Hear me loud and hear me clear: Asa has said nothing for which he needs to apologize. He was perfectly within reason to claim that Opera lied - and while I couldn't be sure that they did in fact lie - since Opera said something on their site about their product that was untrue. I wouldn't have put it the way he did, but that's not the issue here. Once again, in case you didn't get it: the issue is Opera.

Careless Mistake, lie, whatever it was, it happened on Opera's part. I think you fanboys can't just accept that Opera can do any wrong. But now that Opera has admitted it was wrong, you come here and vent. You vent what you can't keep blathering about in your own forum, becaus haavard - being a reasonable moderator - locks threads where you do what you're doing in this thread. You fanboys are too damn loud to swallow your damn pride and admit for once that Opera made a mistake and show some humility about it.

Also another thing for those who are crying about how Asa said that Opera "lied" without knowing about its intentions. You can have all the political correctness in the world, but it won't earn you any point here. And besides, even if for the sake of argument we accept that Asa made an inaccurate statement, it's not the same as Opera doing it. You see, what Asa said wasn't prominently in display at Mozilla.org. Opera - AS AN ORGANIZATION - made this huge embarassing mistake. If haavard just said something on his blog and Opera did not trumpet it on their homepage, I believe the reaction from Asa would have been different.

So fanboys, please go whine elsewhere.

Posted by: yfan on June 9, 2005 12:28 AM

Nice thread. A possible set of conclusions about browsers wars follow.

1. Firefox: living proof that there are ways to coordinate lots and lots of people to produce a communicating tool simple, fast and secure. After all, that is how human language started. That is why I think Firefox will last as much as the organization supporting it: sort of Bell Lab-ish (and its support of Unix).

2. Opera: living proof that the human individual spirit is hard to beat. A group of ŋwhat? maybe 100 people startles the whole world and, probably, smiles quietly. That is why I think Opera will last as much as this group: sort of Kasparov-ish (and his contest against Deep Blue).

3. IE: living proof that money moves the corporate world, which in turn moves the world. That is why I think IE will last as much as the money behind it: sort of Standard Oil-ish (and its fall through anti-trust attacks).

4. Asa Dotzler blog remarks about Opera: living proof that fans, like Asa, sometimes interprete what they see in such a way that their idol remains on top. That is why I think Asa's blog will last: sort of Schumacher-ish (and his F-1 demise this year).

Anyway, fine work Asa, you are a smart and to-the-point person and I like your posts (and now, I like, also, the way you stirr people).

I confess: I use all three browsers... Yes, I know, I am a dork.

Posted by: Ciro Pabon on June 9, 2005 12:40 AM

"Andrew, that's about the funniest thing I've read in weeks. You're seriously suggesting that Opera's in-browser advertising isn't detrimental to the user experience? Wow.

Wow.

- A"

Come on, Asa, every web page is full of ads. INTERNET IS BATHED in advertising. Take it easy, man.

Posted by: Ciro Pabon on June 9, 2005 12:47 AM

"Andrew, that's about the funniest thing I've read in weeks. You're seriously suggesting that Opera's in-browser advertising isn't detrimental to the user experience? Wow.

Wow."

That you would disregard the disparity in feature set, the extra speed of Opera (look it up), the smaller memory, file and install sizes, the innovative features and what ever else that could be argued... because it has an advert at the top of the page says more about you and your comments than my not automatically assuming "ad = detrimental user experience" does.


You're in the hole. Quit digging.

Posted by: Andrew D on June 9, 2005 01:13 AM

I think, that Mozilla Foundation has the same purpose: to make money. It's irrelevant, that we call this as revenue or donation or sponsoring or supposing.

I pronounce, that Opera ASA maximally take notice of whises of their users, at least like Mozilla Foundation.

And I hope, that this competition between Opera and FireFox drives many excellent features for both browsers, and won't become to a war. They have the common enemy, and they have to support each the other for growth of the real WEB standards.

Posted by: vinczej on June 9, 2005 01:13 AM

And also: This script is pretty and friendly from You. Although I prefer Opera, but FireFox is indeed an excellent browser. I think, the recent bilateral handshaking promise a more tolerant relation between FireFox and Opera users. Good luck!

Posted by: vinczej on June 9, 2005 01:31 AM

vinczej wrote:And I hope, that this competition between Opera and FireFox drives many excellent features for both browsers, and won't become to a war. They have the common enemy, and they have to support each the other for growth of the real WEB standards.


well said vinczej, i totally agree with you on that.

Posted by: Scorpion on June 9, 2005 01:35 AM

Louis C: "...and the 2/3 from embedded devices isn't enough to pay all of the developers (yet), so there would have to be layoffs or lowering the salary..."

I didn't say they will or should go open source right NOW. I said they may well do so within two years. If you look at the pdf which was posted above you will see that Opera is expecting its revenues from the mobile market to increase alot.

Andrew D: "You're saying that Opera are providing a user experience that isn't as good because they need to make money. Yet... how do they make money? By providing a desktop user experience that people want to use."

If ads aren't detrimental to the user experience then I don't know what would be. How else would you explain the Firefox market share being at least five times larger than Opera's? (And don't come dragging with all that "Opera uses it's cache ... blah blah ... stats are sooooo inaccurate ... blah blah")

Andrew D: "Do you realise how silly that sounds?"

Do you realise how silly THAT sounds? You obviously aren't getting one bit of what he's talking about: ADS.

A longtime Moz hacker (Anon): "Asa has gone over his head and too bad, he just can't see it. I am not Opera fan. I don't even like Opera. But, for anyone who has read the Asa's post in the last 6 or so months know, that this is NOT the same Asa a couple of years ago."

Really. Where, on his personal blog, has he posted anything incorrect or evil about Opera?

A longtime Moz hacker (Anon): "Blake/Mitchell gets all the credit for Firefox innovation."

Mitchell has nothing to do with the innovation in Firefox, and hasn't had much credit for it either... Yeah right, you're a Moz hacker...

Andrew D: "Even given I accept that, that doesn't automatically make it to the detriment of most users."

Hmm. So do you know many people who download and use Opera instead of Firefox because it has those wonderful ads? Come on...

vcv: "Too late, you've still lost the respect of many people, including people who contribute to the firefox community."

Asa hasn't posted anything untrue, wrong or evil about Opera. Ha has had constructive (and precise!) thoughts about the Opera UI. He has asked why the Opera numbers didn't seem to make sense. He has pointed out that Opera had basically stolen an award which was rightfully Firefox's. For me it's the Opera fanclub who have lost ALL respect since they don't even seem to be able to read straight...

Sigh: "The difference between Mozilla and Opera is that Mozilla will actively use lies, especially about other browser vendors, in their PR."

Mozilla.org uses no lies about other browser vendors. This is Asa's blog, and he hasn't lied about anyone either...

Sigh: "Opera may make a mistake, but won't intentionally lie."

Mozilla.org don't even make public mistakes like that... (Give me an example and I'll admit defeat! And remember, website marketing talk can always be justified...)

John T, Haller: "I'd wager a good number of people that pay for Opera do so because they like the browser but hate the ads..."

How true.

FUD FUD FUD: "What a load of crap. First of all, Opera is a NORWEGIAN company, so don't impose US laws on them. Now, THE WAY OPERA MAKES MONEY IS TO DO WHAT'S BEST FOR THEIR USERS!"

He didn't "impose" any laws on anyone. He was simply trying to establish why Opera simply just can't decide to remove the ads and give the browser away for free.

If Opera automatically made money from doing the very best for it's users it would have removed that ad a long time ago.

FUD FUD FUD: "Unlike Mozilla, which makes money by being in the pockets of big business..."

... who believe in its cause and think it's worth spending a little money on it to open up the web.

Ciro Pabon: "Come on, Asa, every web page is full of ads. INTERNET IS BATHED in advertising. Take it easy, man."

Heh. Seems to me like a good reason for not having them in the browser as well... That's like saying "Well, since heavy crime is on the way up (almost everyone does it!) I might as well have a go at it myself".

Andrew D: "That you would disregard the disparity in feature set, the extra speed of Opera (look it up), the smaller memory, file and install sizes, the innovative features and what ever else that could be argued... because it has an advert at the top of the page says more about you and your comments than my not automatically assuming "ad = detrimental user experience" does."

What on earth are you on about? Originally, Asa simply said that the ads are keeping a lot of users away from Opera. (Because, obviously, users feel they don't want the ads in their browser.) If the ads aren't the reason to Opera's miniscule market share (due to them being detrimental to the user experience), then what is?

Andrew D: "You're in the hole. Quit digging."

Yeah, whatever...

Posted by: David Naylor on June 9, 2005 03:07 AM

David Naylor, seriously. Accusing Opera of lying is *WRONG*, *UNTRUE* and *EVIL*.

Heck, even CNET noticed how Asa ended up being the fool after his disgusting attacks:

http://news.com.com/2061-10795_3-5737433.html

Why did Asa automatically assume that Opera was lying, when clearly there was room for making mistakes? Because it was a cheap shot, and he couldn't resist the temptation.

In other words: He accused Opera of lying knowing full well that it was probably just a misunderstanding. Unlike Opera, Asa's blog post was not a misunderstanding, because his posting history about Opera clearly shows that he takes any opportunity to put it down.

So if Asa claimed that Opera lied, but he did the same thing himself, what does that make Asa?

Even FIREFOX FANS have criticized Asa, harshly, for his childish and trollish behavior.

.

.

Mozilla lies about its competitors (in this case, Opera's portability):

http://stuff.techwhack.com/archives/2004/12/10/opera-vs-mozilla-minimo/

"We can be ported to many platforms that Opera can.t"

Have the Mozilla reps retracted lies they made about Opera?

.

.

"If Opera automatically made money from doing the very best for it's users it would have removed that ad a long time ago."

More FUD. Opera, unlike Mozilla, is an independent software vendor. It cannot rely on donations, and so it has to make money to continue to do development, and of course research for all the stuff Firefox rips off from Opera once Opera has come up with new innovations.

Opera NEEDS to do what's best for its users. It has existed for TEN YEARS, and not without reason. If it all had to do with money, Opera would have cashed in during the dot.com bubble, but they didn't. They didn't go on the stock market back then, but instead continued to innovate and redefine modern browsers.

Now Opera has entered the stock market to raise funds to expand into new markets, and yet the CEO drives around in an old wreck of a car, and has to sell stock to be able to pay his taxes (according to a recent article).

Posted by: Heh. on June 9, 2005 03:51 AM

"Opera NEEDS to do what's best for its users."

Sure it does. But money is automatically priority nr 1, the user is nr 2 - hence the ads.

Posted by: David Naylor on June 9, 2005 04:11 AM

Good job Asa, now all the Opera user hate you..lol

Posted by: Alex on June 9, 2005 04:22 AM

"David Naylor: Sure it does. But money is automatically priority nr 1, the user is nr 2 - hence the ads."

Nope. They need to provide a great product in order to make money. Opera cannot make money if their product is not good enough for the users; the product is priority nr 1 in order to satisfy the user and therefore make money.

They need the ads because they need money to develop a product (you know, not everyone receives donations from the Big boys ;-)); this is basic economics for small companies.

Opera is not Microsoft, itīs a tiny Norwegian company. I think you need to understand that. :-)

Posted by: Lerner on June 9, 2005 04:35 AM

Lerner: Means and ends. A company needs to make money to survive, and that will always be priority nr 1. Now, in order to do so, Opera have decided to give the user many innovative features so that they will put up with the ads which generate the income. What you're saying is that the user is the nr 1 priority in order to gain income. That is the same as saying that the user is priority nr 2 over-all.

"Opera is not Microsoft, itīs a tiny Norwegian company. I think you need to understand that. :-)"

I haven't said Opera is Evil(tm). I've only said it is a company, and like all companies it needs to make money. Opera have chosen to make money by being good. Good enough for (quite a lot of) users to put up with the ad. I think you need to understand that. :-)

"They need the ads because they need money to develop a product"

Or rather: They need the ads because they need money to develop a product so they can continue to make money in the future, to pay the salaries of the employees, who need to eat to survive.

Posted by: David Naylor on June 9, 2005 04:58 AM

"David Naylor: What you're saying is that the user is the nr 1 priority in order to gain income. That is the same as saying that the user is priority nr 2 over-all."

Huh?. Users and money are the same for a small company. There is not a priority regarding both aspects. They go hand by hand. My reference to Microsoft was not intended the way you took it :-).A big corporation is not the same than a small company; your "ranking" is valid to define the Big Boys (money and users are not the same for them, they can provide a weak product but their income will not decrease, it will sometimes increase (take MS as an example), this is because there are other variables included) but you cannot apply it to tiny companies. If Opera provides a weak product, they cannot survive; this is the reason why users are as important as money for Opera and other small companies (obviously, there are exceptions ;-)).


"Or rather: They need the ads because they need money to develop a product so they can continue to make money in the future, to pay the salaries of the employees, who need to eat to survive."

No. They need ads because thay need to develop a product so they can continue to satisfy users/make money. See above. ;-)

Posted by: Lerner on June 9, 2005 05:41 AM

"Users and money are the same for a small company."

That depends how the company earns its money. Opera is getting alot of its money from mobile manufacturers (I simply presume...).

"They need ads because thay need to develop a product so they can continue to satisfy users/make money."

That's what I said, sortof.

"this is the reason why users are as important as money for Opera and other small companies"

In practice I guess you're right (at least where Opera stands today). Users = money. But the money is what they're after. I feel my statement above, "money is automatically priority nr 1, the user is nr 2 - hence the ads" still stands though. If stisfying the user were the ultimate goal, they would remove the ads, right?

Posted by: David Naylor on June 9, 2005 05:56 AM

About this ads thing, I dont understand why there is such a confusion about it. You simply cant place an ad in an inferior product and make money off it. It would be like giving away microwaves with ads for your buisness - that explode. Hardly a way to make money is it?

Its quite obvious that the product and the user experience has to be number one priority. If that works, you can sneak in an ad that doesn't ruin that experience. Heck, Opera will even remove an ad from their systems if it takes too much attention from the browsing experience - being very flashy, blinky, casino-like, you know.

Sure, buying Opera is something everyone should do, just like people who buy stuff made by people who hire firefox devs are buying a part of firefox.

Posted by: Toman on June 9, 2005 06:09 AM

"About this ads thing, I dont understand why there is such a confusion about it."

I don't see the confusion. If the user were the ultimate nr one, there wouldn't be an ad, since the users don't want it. Of course Opera has to have more features than the other browsers if they want anyone to use it with the ad.

Posted by: David Naylor on June 9, 2005 06:29 AM

"That depends how the company earns its money. Opera is getting alot of its money from mobile manufacturers (I simply presume...)."

This doesnīt change anything...

"That's what I said, sortof."

Itīs not really the same but I think you get the point. ;-)

" If stisfying the user were the ultimate goal, they would remove the ads, right?"

No. The company would disappear in the blink of an eye so users wouldnīt be satisfied at all.

Opera cannot afford (right now) removing the ads from the browser. Maybe if the income rises, Opera could find another business model.

Posted by: Lerner on June 9, 2005 06:59 AM

Yeah, Ok, I see how you're thinking now anyway...

Posted by: David Naylor on June 9, 2005 07:03 AM

"I don't see the confusion. If the user were the ultimate nr one, there wouldn't be an ad, since the users don't want it."

So, you are saying that if the user was number one, Opera shouldn't have ads in its revenue, but be purely licencing based?

Opera is the only big browser maker that has a buisnessmodel of making browsers for money. Your argument about "ultimate number one" is like saying all the good candy should be free since we dont want to pay for it. Lets all remember that big buisness has donated the development of Firefox. Opera makes it alone, and it does good. Insinuating that making a good browser is purely about money is ridiculing coders who work for Opera to make a better browser.

Posted by: Toman on June 9, 2005 07:03 AM

... but I still feel that satisfying the user can never be the ultimate goal for a company, because, as you say, it would disappear in no time.

Posted by: David Naylor on June 9, 2005 07:05 AM

"So, you are saying that if the user was number one, Opera shouldn't have ads in its revenue, but be purely licencing based?"

No, I'm saying a company always has income as the primary goal, and satisfying users enough to put up with an ad is a means to reach that goal.

Posted by: David Naylor on June 9, 2005 07:07 AM

"Your argument about "ultimate number one" is like saying all the good candy should be free since we dont want to pay for it."

Is that an admittal that money is nr 1? :-)

Posted by: David Naylor on June 9, 2005 07:11 AM

And don't forget: Mozilla give support for $40. Where is the user-friendly behaviour? But this is a polarized example. Both team need money, but the model is different.

But I accept this script as a "whiteflag" from Asa, and hope, that Asa mean, that Opera did the same. It would be useful, if insiders of Mozilla and Opera appease the both community not to hate each other. Isn't worth. I have much FireFox fans as my friends, we are discussing very much, but meantime nothing enemity. I imagine, how IE fans celebrate on the "alternative's war".

Posted by: vinczej on June 9, 2005 07:19 AM

This isn't a war, it's just an interesting discussion :-)

Posted by: David Naylor on June 9, 2005 07:29 AM

"Is that an admittal that money is nr 1? :-)"

;-)

Its an admittal that money and users go hand in hand. No users, no money. No money, no browser, hance, no users. As politicians tend to say: "We need to have two thoughts in our head at the same time here".

This is an argument nobody can "win". Opera has ads, and it would undoubtably be better for me without them. But without ads, I wouldn't be able to use Opera in the first place. I prefer Opera with ads to no Opera. I'm sure even Firefox fans agree to that - For promoting Web standards and having real competition (and inspiration ;-) if nothing else. - As an Opera user and HTML writer, I use Firefox for reference instead of IE, and I hope Firefox users do the same.

Posted by: Toman on June 9, 2005 07:32 AM

Ok then... Good summary!

(But I still hope they will be able to open-source it in a few years...)

Posted by: David Naylor on June 9, 2005 07:36 AM

David, you are being an ass when you write stuff like this:

> Andrew D: "Even given I accept that, that doesn't automatically make it to the detriment of most users."

> Hmm. So do you know many people who download and use Opera instead of Firefox because it has those wonderful ads? Come on...

I agree that the ads are detrimental to the free version. But to intentionally misinterpret the statement "ads aren't detrimental" as meaning "users want ads" is logically rude and didn't address the point whatsoever. Quit it; that's the kind of tactic trolls use, not people with legitimate points.

Posted by: Jim on June 9, 2005 07:39 AM

Jim, I may well have been just that. I was just trying to make my point about ads being detrimental to the user experience. (A point I thought was obvious, but obviously not to everyone.)

Posted by: David Naylor on June 9, 2005 07:42 AM

"... but I still feel that satisfying the user can never be the ultimate goal for a company, because, as you say, it would disappear in no time."

If the goal is satisfying the user, and the method used (remove the ads) makes the company disappear, then removing the ads is not the correct way to satisfy the user.

Keep in mind that in this kind of Business models satisfying the user and making money are at the same level. Itīs one of the main caracteristics of the business model used by tiny companies. In fact itīs inherent to the business model so the company cannot change the priority ("-ies", in this case) without changing the model itself (and this is not possible if the income is the same). Itīs an endless spiral that can only change if the income rises.

Posted by: Lerner on June 9, 2005 07:47 AM

If ads aren't a big deal to the user, how come more people aren't using Opera? Firefox is overhyped is it? Or is it just that Opera's community marketing effort has failed big time, or simply not got going yet?

Posted by: David Naylor on June 9, 2005 07:48 AM

"If ads aren't a big deal to the user, how come not more people are using Opera? Firefox is overhyped is it? Or is it just that Opera's community marketing effort has failed big time, or simply not got going yet?"

huh?. Iīm not saying that ads are not a problem (that would be stupid). Please read the argument again. The limitation is the business model itself: They have to choose between keeping the ads (a limitation regarding new users) or remove them (i.e make the company dissapear which is not satisfying the users at all.). Of course, they choose to keep the ads: the "less worse" option.

Posted by: Lerner on June 9, 2005 08:11 AM

Eh, that comment wasn't intended as a reply to your post. It was meant as a reply to the often-mentioned claim that 'oh, well, the ads aren't so bad'...

(Look at the timestamp.)

Posted by: David Naylor on June 9, 2005 08:19 AM

Ooops. ;-)

Posted by: Lerner on June 9, 2005 08:23 AM

OK, enough with the bogus claims. It's already been clearly established that the revenue from the Opera desktop browser is only 1/3rd of the income. Given that, Opera could very likely remove the ads and not cease to exist. Those of you suggesting that it's a choice between Opera with ads or no Opera are making completely unsubstantiated claims.

Look, there's simply no doubt that the ads, taken in and of themselves, are detrimental to the overall user experience and make the browser (at least somewhat -- that's up to debate) less usable and friendly.

I'll repeat my point that triggered all this talk about ads and maybe this can get back on the original off-topic thread ;-) I claim that removing the ads is a necessary (but not sufficient) step if Opera is to break out of the low single digits in terms of market share.

Maybe you disagree. Maybe you agree. I'm not trying to convince you one way or ther other, just stating my opinion. Any arguments that removing the ads isn't possible or that it would mean the end of the company really should include demonstrable reason why.

It's all about tradeoffs. Right now Opera seems to think that they're making enough money from the ads that they're unwilling to remove them for a user unless he pays the $39. So there are one of three possibilities. Opera makes about that much from each ad-sponsored user, Opera is willing to register a user at a loss to keep paying customers happy, or Opera is charging more than what they make on ads so the registered users are more valuable than the ad-sponsored users. Do any of you have any idea which is the case? If not, then it's pretty hard to make the claim that they can't afford to change the revenue model.

Just to make my point that it's not necessarily impossible for Opera to survive without the ads, take this example. Assume that Opera drops the ads from the browser, and instead offers fewer features in the free version. For the sake of argument, assume they pare it down to something like the stock Firefox feature set (which has proved to be extremely popular of late). Now Opera throws away (assume) half of their desktop revenue or 17% of their total revenue. If I'm right and removing the ads leads to a dramatic increase in usage, some percent of those new users who start using it will probably be interested in "upgrading" to the full featured version (just as some people add extensions to Firefox.) If the increase in total (free) users is significant, say double what it is now, and even if only a small percentage of them upgrade to the full $ version, it's not inconceivable that the revenue moves back in line with what it is today and does so with a much larger user base. If registered users are worth a lot more than ad-sponsored users, then this works even better for Opera. If they're worth less, then maybe not and Opera should consider charging more for the registered version (if it really is that good, then people will pay.)

Now that's just one possible rout. They could also increase the price or increase licensing fees for their embedded browser. There are any number of scenarios where Opera could plan to maintain or even grow revenue while removing ads from the browser.

I'm not saying my suggestion is the right one or that it would work, but for those of you discounting - out of hand - that the ads could ever be remove, I'd really like to hear why you think it's impossible.

-A

Posted by: Asa Dotzler on June 9, 2005 09:13 AM

"I'm saying a company always has income as the primary goal"

Not necessarily, no. No more than it is Mozilla's primary goal. Without money, you can't continue. Easy as that.

If Opera was primarily about money, the management would have gone public during the dotcom bubble and cashed in. They haven't.

Posted by: Capitalist on June 9, 2005 09:15 AM

Capitalist - It has to be more of a goal for Opera than for Mozilla. Opera did go public (not during the bubble, and obviously they didn't cash in and then disappear), so they have investors who are looking for a return on their investment. They have to provide that return. They can certainly do other good stuff as well, but if they keep making a loss their investors won't stick around - if profit isn't the management's only goal, it's certainly got to be up there. Mozilla is a non-profit Foundation - if people who are donating to Mozilla see anyone making profits out of it, they're not going to be happy. Obviously non-profit doesn't mean you don't need an income, but it does mean you don't need to make a profit.

Asa - assuming your example is viable (and I don't see any more substantiation for your opinion than for anyone else's here...), I'm not sure who benefits from that. If there was a free/low-price Opera with a feature set similar to Firefox, you're just moving another browser into the same space as Firefox. Isn't it better to have some substantially different browsers around, rather than multiple browsers that don't have much to choose between them (obviously there would be different engines, different business models, etc, but I'm thinking in terms of non-power users who won't care about that stuff)? Doesn't Firefox have enough competition from the bundled browsers without creating a Firefox-like independent browser?

Actually, if they did go down that route, I can't see them competing effectively with Firefox for some time anyway, as Firefox now has a huge head start in terms of market share.

Posted by: michaell on June 9, 2005 10:06 AM

asa, the ads have nothing to do with usability, stop throwing as much dirt as you can. Demonstrate it! (Fact: Opera with google ads has more screen real-estate than Firefox out of the box.)

17% from ads? Back it up! You seem to adhere to double standards. But like they say: double standard is better than no standards.

"Do any of you have any idea which is the case? If not, then it's pretty hard to make the claim that they can't afford to change the revenue model."

Remember it is *you* who is making the claim that changing the model is possible. So it is *you* that has the burden of proof. Investigate it asa! Assuming Opera financial department arn't stupid, I think the model they have now is the right one. Now.

"I claim that removing the ads is a necessary (but not sufficient) step if Opera is to break out of the low single digits in terms of market share."

Single sigits? What country are you living in? Oh, the USA...
If removing the ads is "not sufficient" to you, then what is? Opera has loads more features, is faster and uses less memory and disk space.
So whats keeping you back except the ads, asa?

1. Extensions? It is true that certain things extensions can do in Firefox cant be done by customizing Opera, but Opera can be customized and extended upon in ways you cant imagine.
(You obviously didn't write menus or toolbars for opera in a while. Making custom menus and toolbars is much like making mozilla chrome xul files, except they are in standard ini format. These files can be installed by clicking on links on websites and they are applied in real time. (No restart needed))

2. Open source? How many actually contribute code to firefox? How many of those work on the code every day? Opera listens to users, unlike MS or other companies who answer more to their buinesspartners. If you know the opera community, you know that features added or removed are as much discussed as they are in any given open source project.

Thats the only two advantages I can think of that Firefox has, and they are barely valid to ordinary users.

Posted by: Toman on June 9, 2005 10:07 AM

asa, the ads have nothing to do with usability, stop throwing as much dirt as you can. Demonstrate it! (Fact: Opera with google ads has more screen real-estate than Firefox out of the box.)

Sorry, I'm not Asa, but I still can't believe how many people are claiming that the ads don't matter. In general, people don't like ads. Why do you think Adblock is one of the most popular Firefox extentions? Why do you think Opera, Firefox and Mozilla have been touting their pop-up blockers as a reason to use their products? Why do you think skipping commercials is one of Tivo's most popular features?

It's bad enough that ads follow us everywhere we go, but given a choice between two browsers, one with extra ads and one without, which one do you think is going to be more popular? A lot of people aren't going to get past that to see the features, speed, etc. that Opera users find so appealing. They'll just see "Ads, eew!" and go look at that Firefox thing they heard someone talking about.

I like Opera, but I hate the ads, and the first thing I do when I upgrade it or install it on a new computer is dig out my license key and get rid of them. I'll bet there are a lot of people who do the same thing, and a lot of people who find another way to get rid of the ads: by uninstalling it and using something else.

Posted by: Kelson on June 9, 2005 10:29 AM

"OK, enough with the bogus claims. It's already been clearly established that the revenue from the Opera desktop browser is only 1/3rd of the income. Given that, Opera could very likely remove the ads and not cease to exist. Those of you suggesting that it's a choice between Opera with ads or no Opera are making completely unsubstantiated claims."

The Phone factor is dependent on the desktop development so the income percentage factor doesnīt say too much regarding the Business model.

Still, 1/3rd of the income is a lot of money. Basic economics: less developers> lower-quality product on desktop> lower-quality product on Phones>...

If the business model has not changed is probably because the Income Projections discard it.

*Right now*, the "Opera with ads or no Opera choice" is a completely substantiated claim. ;-)

Posted by: Lerner on June 9, 2005 10:33 AM

Toman, if you genuinely believe that _any_ piece of a software application's UI can possibly be impactless on usability, then you're clearly incapable of discussing usability in any credible way. Every aspect of what is put in front of the user has an impact on usability. Not being able to even acknowledge that discredits you on the subject. Reducing user interface and user interaction to available screen real-estate also discredits you on the subject.

I have a question for you. If, as you claim, the only two advantages Firefox has are barely valid to ordinary users, why is Firefox seeing so much better uptake than Opera? I believe that their revenue model is a big part of the blame and I'm suggesting that they might be able to improve. What do you think is to blame for Opera hovering around 1 and 2% for years and what would you suggest Opera do to move from that up to, say, 10%.

- A

Posted by: Asa Dotzler on June 9, 2005 10:36 AM

asa, did I say _any_ aspect? no. Did I reduce usability to real estate? no. Whats your point?

Posted by: Toman on June 9, 2005 10:43 AM

Mozilla has always been in and around the usage share of opera. A simpler user interface with less features, and a huge champaign, seems to be the two main reasons Firefox has gained so many users. I think you are right when you praise Opera for going the simpler interface route, while it is also possible for power users to keep the advanced interface. I do not believe it has to do with the ads. (look at MSN messenger, it has loads of ads.)

Posted by: Toman on June 9, 2005 10:47 AM

Toman: There are two crucial differences between web browsers and IM that makes advertising in the UI have a different impact in each.

1. The major IM systems remain separate. You can pick any browser you like and surf the same web (subject to compatibility), but if all your friends are on MSN, you need to use the MSN messenger or use a third-party IM tool and hope MSN doesn't decide to block it. Same goes for Yahoo or AIM.

2. Most of the major IM clients have ads now. MSN? Ads. AIM? Ads. Yahoo? Ads. ICQ? Ads. If you grab an alternative IM that has ads, you're not giving up an ad-free UI. Whereas with web browsers, the "mainstream" browser, IE, does not have built-in ads, so in order to get a web browser that has ads in it, you have to deliberately choose one. Meanwhile there are other ad-free alternatives.

Posted by: Kelson on June 9, 2005 11:20 AM

Kelson: My point was that advertising as such (at least not in the small ammount found in opera (31px tall)) does not impact usability as such, like asa was suggesting.

1. I fully agree that proprietary systems can afford (more) to have ads, but it doesn't make them less useful.

2. There are other messenger programs that work with msn, but they are not as popular as msn. Why? Bundling? Yes. Usefulness? Yes. Word of mouth? Yes.

When concidering a different application for something you are used to, it is easiest to go the path of less resistance. In the past this has been IE to Firefox.

Notice how few Opera users go to Firefox, Firefox is taking users from IE. If this wasn't true, Opera's share would have vanished, but it has climbed. Remember also that Firefox had a comparatively simpler UI than Opera a year and a half ago, when the Firefox wave seriously took off. Opera has now understood it must simplify to meet new users. The statistical results of this simplification will not be seen in quite a while because Firefox has such a 'meme' behind it right now. It will be interesting to see what happens.

Posted by: Toman on June 9, 2005 11:55 AM

ASA:

Opera will NEVER cripple their browser and make users pay to get the "full version".

Posted by: Mr. Bat on June 9, 2005 12:11 PM

Notice how few Opera users go to Firefox, Firefox is taking users from IE....

Yep. And I haven't seen many Firefox users going to Opera either. Most people don't want to change browsers unless they're really fed up with the old one, and a lot of people are really fed up with IE. I think Asa's right when he says that Opera and Firefox both attract power users but only Firefox has attracted the average user in large numbers (so far).

The statistical results of this simplification will not be seen in quite a while because Firefox has such a 'meme' behind it right now. It will be interesting to see what happens.

Agreed. I have to admit, I'd kind of hoped Opera would climb along with Firefox, and was surprised (at first) that it didn't. I was really surprised to see Safari overtake it, at least on my own site's stats. Certainly the publicity Firefox has gotten has been the driving factor, but I would still expect the anti-IE hysteria to have driven some significant amount of market share to Opera over the past year. And yet Opera has hovered at a consistent 0.8% (my site's stats again) for the past two years. I've come to the conclusion that the cost is a major factor.

I'm big on keeping the web platform-neutral, and I think the best way to do that is to have at least three major rendering engines, each with large enough marketshare that it can't be ignored. If IE has 50%, Gecko has 25%, and Opera has 15%, the most efficient way for business websites to avoid losing lots of potential customers is to just use standards-based code in the first place, keeping it open to the remaining 10% on Safari/Konqueror, iCab, Lynx, etc.

Posted by: Kelson on June 9, 2005 12:40 PM

"If I'm right and removing the ads leads to a dramatic increase in usage, some percent of those new users who start using it will probably be interested in "upgrading" to the full featured version (just as some people add extensions to Firefox.)"

Well, not just the same situation. Maybe, that Opera had new users from IE, but lost old Opera users. I use Opera in a full-featured, extremely customized Fullscreen mode, and I don't see ad-banner. (Although ads are sometimes very useful. We in Europe aren't afraid of advertisements, yet).If I had to use a light-featured Opera, probably I prompt switched to FF :). The fact, that the core FF is less featured, isn't equal, that Opera could have a light version, because FF can be expanded with extensions without paying, but Opera only with paying.

Probably would be growth without ads, but to find the optimal model isn't easy, and a bit risky. I agree, that open-source model is much more popular, but not a sure job without big sponsors from the start right for the employees.

Posted by: vinczej on June 9, 2005 01:56 PM

Communists, I say, You are a bunch of communist!

It's his blog, ever heard of "freedom of speech" Meaning just because you believe in one thing, that no one has to believe the same. It's hard to think that a simple statement can start a small nerd war *cough* again, It's not Opera vs IE, never has been. It's always Opera vs Firefox/Firefox vs Internet Explorer. I have never seen a single person mention Opera without comparing it to Firefox or any other browser. So much tension, It's a FREAKING BROWSER, get over it!

atleast asa's getting more hits a day than ever, all the power to you, asa

Posted by: Jmack on June 9, 2005 02:05 PM

Jmack, you are missing the point. Asa is a well known Mozilla representative who has been frequently quoted in the media. With that comes responsibility, something Asa has not realized.

"If, as you claim, the only two advantages Firefox has are barely valid to ordinary users, why is Firefox seeing so much better uptake than Opera?"

Because Firefox 1.0 was released at exactly the right time: When official warnings against IE were issued "everywhere". While Firefox was new and fresh Opera didn't really have anything new to offer. Opera 7 was what, two years old by then? The media doesn't report much on two year old products. They focus on the new kid on the block, and it was making noise at the right time.

"I haven't seen many Firefox users going to Opera either."

I have. Check out the NeoWin forum... A poll there indicates that quite a few Firefox users have switched to Opera now that Opera 8.0 is out. In fact, I usually see comments about people switching from Firefox to Opera now, than the other way around.

Posted by: Rick on June 9, 2005 02:59 PM

"...It's not Opera vs IE, never has been..."

Not right. Earlier, when Mozilla was in "sleep" phase for years, the main comapetitor was Opera. Although it was known, that in the background Mozilla developers and sponsors prepare for the revenge and breaking of the IE monopoly. The secure reports was the optimal chance to break-through.

"I have never seen a single person mention Opera without comparing it to Firefox or any other browser."

I features IE isn't any comparable with Opera or FF. IE shells in browser categorie are right competitors, but they aren't "alternative" because of IE engine. Lonely FF has the ability in features to be right competitor for Opera.
In market share is IE the real enemy.

Posted by: vinczej on June 9, 2005 11:31 PM

"I have never seen a single person mention Opera without comparing it to Firefox or any other browser."

Then, Sir, you are a blind fool.

Anyway, CNET says:

"Dozens of flaming messages later, Opera issued a retraction and Dotzler was left defending his professionalism."

Posted by: Rick on June 10, 2005 12:43 AM

"Fact: Opera with google ads has more screen real-estate than Firefox out of the box."

Heh. Let's stick to the facts here. At least, that is not the case on my resolution (1152x864). Firefox: 1152x709px=816,768, Opera 1130*704px=795,520.

That's a difference of 3%, so it's hardly worth arguing about though... What resolution makes Opera's canvas larger than Firefox's?

Posted by: David Naylor on June 10, 2005 01:26 AM

So to sum up the Operanauts pet hypotheses for Firefox's success:

1. Release timing
2. Marketing

... and it's definately not

1. A more familiar look & feel.
2. A more streamlined featureset & UI.
3. Opera's ads/price tag keeping users away (from Opera).

Did I get that about right?

Posted by: David Naylor on June 10, 2005 01:32 AM

David Naylor:"Also, give me control of the placement and shape of the ad - as it is it jumps around and it is pretty tricky to get the toolbars the way you want them. Although, in the end, I think Firefox's theme and feel as well as being adfree are the main reasons for it catching on with loads of users. (It's hard for me to justify why my mum should have to look at google ads all day when she gets all the features she needs in Firefox...)"

http://img1.IMGSatellite.com/u/05/141/09/operafullscreen.jpg

Where is the ad-banner in this free (of charge with ad-banner) version? What function can't I get? Opera can customize anyone for almost everything. Agreed, that one has to have skills for it.
But really, ad-banner is can be for many people annoying, but without it the revenue is more unstable. One finger or other finger..?

Posted by: vinczej on June 10, 2005 01:49 AM

"Agreed, that one has to have skills for it."

OK. I've been a browser nerd since the rise and fall of NN4, and I've never seen that customization hack before... Well, ok, it's doable. Great!

Posted by: David Naylor on June 10, 2005 01:57 AM

vinczej, where can I read about how to do that magic?

Posted by: David Naylor on June 10, 2005 01:59 AM

David Naylor: I agree with you, that FireFox had ( and a bit now too has ) an more familiar look and feel for newbies. (Last year this different was bigger moreover)

Cause of success for FF (IMHO): Free - More compliant sites (mostly not rendering, but Opera-discrimination problem) - More IE-like default UI - Ideal release time - Opensource ( good start by Opensource community ) - Netscape inheritance - The principle of extensions "development outsourcing",( although in view-point of security is questionable)

These features together are very convincing collection of comparative advantages. Of course after a time these advantages become less important, and the competition will be mostly technical and security. And we can hope, that the standards give a chance for a fair competition (I think IE non-standards).

Posted by: vinczej on June 10, 2005 02:24 AM

I think, that you ask me a bit sarcastic (no problem), but I answer:

Technically it could be accessed by a one-click package (as I use for my friends want try Opera). I know, that FF has similar extension packages, too. I don't want promote Opera on any FF forum (probably were unsuccessful :) ), but Opera Community, like MozillaZine, give for both newbies and techies a perfect support, and even much more.

Posted by: vinczej on June 10, 2005 02:40 AM

"I think, that you ask me a bit sarcastic"

... it just sounded like you might know... :-)

Posted by: David Naylor on June 10, 2005 02:48 AM

David Naylor: The real-estate I was talking about was on my 1024*768 on linux. Perhaps the toolbars are larger in FF on linux (Mepis here). Anyway, like you say the numbers arn't much to brag about (maybe 0.5% in favour of opera), but it was a point worth making when discussing the ads...

Posted by: Toman on June 10, 2005 06:04 AM

Yep Asa's right, OPERA sucks.

Oh ho ho, take that big fatty opera fanbois, suckas!

Posted by: Horseweener on June 10, 2005 08:32 AM

"but it was a point worth making when discussing the ads"

0.5%? Hardly worth the effort bringing it up - but hey, I'm on the Firefox side of things ;-)

Posted by: David Naylor on June 10, 2005 08:34 AM

I Should rephrase my comment.

"I have never seen a single person mention Opera without being in comparison with Firefox It's always Opera vs Firefox." "...It's not Opera vs IE, never has been..."

I guess I'm not looking hard enough. As too clarify I'm talking about fanboyism not the press. I have no problems with Opera just prefer Firefox.


Posted by: Jmack on June 10, 2005 08:48 AM

David Naylor: Not much of a "see the statement in context" kind of guy, are you? Troll.

Posted by: Toman on June 10, 2005 09:59 AM

Toman: Please, not so hard! The ton became correct, don't disturb it.

Otherwise:Thanks for the possibility for Asa and FireFox fans here on Asa's blog our opinion to discuss. I clearly prefer Opera, but respect FireFox quality, and congratulation for this PCAward Winning for core developers and volunteers! Opera Community will hardly work to reach FireFox's successes against IE.

Posted by: vinczej on June 10, 2005 10:48 AM

This comment is personal, however I have used Firefox on both Linux and Windoze, and while it worked reasonably well on Linux, I always had minor rendering issues with it on Windows. on the other hand;
Opera is great on Windows, it is elegant,fleet and accurate. On Linux it is the VERY BEST browser I have used, beating the pants off of Firefox.
I'll stay with Opera for now, and I even own my version.
As I said, this is one users personal experience.

"Is Uncle Bob" the Aunty Microsoft?"

Posted by: Uncle Bob on June 10, 2005 11:33 AM

Some interesting : http://start.open-theweb.net/

Posted by: vinczej on June 10, 2005 11:36 AM

I think Asa needs to reflect a little more before he posts and realize that he is one of the more visable faces of Mozilla.org and as such should act a more as an elder statesman within the open source community (like Linus) though he is a bit young to be described as "elder".

Personally I think Opera is better especially if the extensions are not factored in. But, I have had multiple instances of the extensions somehow being corrupted and having to clean out and begin afresh. 700 extensions, this is easy for a novice to figure out?

As to removing the ads and getting the cost of Opera closer to zero - please, this is a for profit company and the ads are not overbearing (use the text option). Does anyone kretch when Google or Yahoo displays ads? Would it be so bad if FF displayed some ads if it allowed faster development and resulted in a bettter product?

Posted by: bill on June 10, 2005 11:56 AM

"Not much of a "see the statement in context" kind of guy, are you? Troll."

Yeah, whatever. I didn't mean to be trollish... I said that with a smile, see?

Posted by: David Naylor on June 10, 2005 12:56 PM

"Would it be so bad if FF displayed some ads if it allowed faster development and resulted in a better product?"

I'd say yes.

Posted by: David Naylor on June 10, 2005 12:58 PM

Would it be so bad if FF displayed some ads if it allowed faster development and resulted in a bettter product?

Yes. Check out the comments on the joke adbar extension.

If this were put into the main application, Firefox users would revolt faster than you can say "IEEEEE!!!!"

Posted by: Kelson on June 10, 2005 12:58 PM

It's quite funny to see Firefox fanboys brag how they have many times more users and have spread faster. Since when did numbers define quality, last time I looked Mozilla was still getting it's ass kicked by IE. And we all know IE is great (lol, jk).

The fact is Opera has to make money in some form or another from it's desktop browser, remember Opera is a company, not a charity.

The fact is Firefox users will tout security, yet Opera at this moment now has zero Secunia advisories, while Firefox has more than IE.

They will tout features, yet Opera has WAY more by default.

They will brag about they're standards compliance, yet look at Firefox....they are implementing standards like SVG that have been around for years on Opera.

Firefox users will even tout speed, yet some there is countless evidence showing it is SLOWER than Opera.

Keep it coming Firefox guyz, keep bashing, but at the end of the day you are all still losers.

Posted by: DanVersion1 on June 10, 2005 01:11 PM

"Since when did numbers define quality, last time I looked Mozilla was still getting it's ass kicked by IE. And we all know IE is great (lol, jk)."

That's an easy way to try to write off the fact that loads of people are downloading, using and loving Firefox.

Posted by: David Naylor on June 10, 2005 01:27 PM

"they are implementing standards like SVG that have been around for years on Opera"

Is that so? I thought SVG was implemented in v8, but I could be wrong...

Posted by: David Naylor on June 10, 2005 01:29 PM

David (Naylor),
I am at this moment writing from a nightly build of Firefox
Mozilla/5.0 (Windows; U; Windows NT 5.1; en-US; rv:1.7.8) Gecko/20050608 Firefox/1.0.4

I have been a Firefox user since it was known as Phoenix and switch between it and Opera depending on what I am doing. I am not a "fanboy" boy of either just it is infuriating to see Firefox users talking in the manner they are, with niether facts or common sense to back it up. If you balance the features, usability, quality, and how secure both are against each other, Opera wins by a landslide.

I am not sure exactly about everyone else, but I use what is better.
It's people's definition of "better", rather than opinion
that is defining which browser people are using.

My dream is that a better union is formed between the two (mozilla&opera), as they actually do share many of the same goals. This bashing crap is causing delays, look at Konquerer and iCab at how they have gone to beat the Acid2 test and in a few short weeks have better standards than Opera & Mozilla.

If everyone can accept that Opera is essentially better, and that Firefox is designed for one purpose (that being to be extendable based on user's desire, not limitation), but still needs drastic work, then we can all go home happy.

Posted by: DanVersion1 on June 10, 2005 01:47 PM

"it is infuriating to see Firefox users talking in the manner they are"

Ok. I thought we were merely having a discussion here. (And an unusually interesting one too.) Maybe you'd prefer we didn't?

"If you balance the features, usability, quality, and how secure both are against each other, Opera wins by a landslide."

That wasn't really what we were discussing, but yeah, sure.

"with niether facts or common sense to back it up"

If I was trollish i apologize, that certainly wasn't my intention. However, it's difficult to remain calm when you get comments such like 'What a load of crap.' and 'Not much of a "see the statement in context" kind of guy, are you? Troll.' etc...

Also, if I'm not sure of the facts, I have tried to be humble about it and say so.

"It's people's definition of "better", rather than opinion
that is defining which browser people are using."

Aren't 'definition of better' and 'opinion' fairly close? What are you trying to say?

"This bashing crap is causing delays"

I don't consider myself a basher, but anyhow I can't code so I'm not delaying anything... The point I've stated here is simply that "I'd think it were great if Opera had enough other income sources to be able to open-source their desktop browser.' Is that such an evil thing to say/wish for? I've accepted the fact that they may not be able to do so right now due to lack of other income sources, haven't I?

"If everyone can accept that Opera is essentially better, and that Firefox is designed for one purpose (that being to be extendable based on user's desire, not limitation), but still needs drastic work, then we can all go home happy."

Great. (Although I still don't actually recall us discussing 'who is better - Firefox or Opera?')

Posted by: David Naylor on June 10, 2005 02:16 PM

"how they have gone to beat the Acid2 test and in a few short weeks have better standards than Opera & Mozilla"

I think the reason Mozilla hasn't got very far with the Acid2 test is that Gecko is in beta development right now, and has been for quite some time. Expect more action on that front when the trunk code opens up for v1.9 alpha development.

Posted by: David Naylor on June 10, 2005 02:39 PM

Your right, the topic wasnt about which is better, but it always comes down to it. Proof of that can also be found in the many statements by Firefox users proclaiming they love it and Opera sucks. This statement also sums it up a little too.

by Jmack-
"I have never seen a single person mention Opera without being in comparison with Firefox It's always Opera vs Firefox."

Users simply feel inclined to bloat about they're fav browser, even if the topic is about a person whom represents one of those browsers, that is trying to get around the fact he was being unprofessional and is received alot of attention about it.

Nobody really pointed this, so I will. Opera does recieve income from it's browsers whether it be cell phone or desktop, however they also make a considerable amount of money from the licensing of they're engine Presto, to various software companys such as Adobe and Macromedia.

Posted by: DanVersion1.0 on June 10, 2005 02:44 PM

I agree that ads are the biggest barrier to adoption of Opera. I don't even bother to try Opera when a new version comes out anymore because I hate ads so much. I avoid ad-ridden software like the plague. I use Gaim for IM primarily, but use MSN/Yahoo/AIM when I need to ensure webcam or file transfer works, or when I want to listen to Launch. The ads in those are not too much of a problem, because you really only need a few lines of real estate for IM. Browsing, on the other hand, is best with as much screen real estate as possible. You also don't want processor or bandwidth wasted on downloading ads and displaying them, whether cached or not.

Asa offered a great, reasoned suggestion when he said Opera should offer a free standard version and a paid full-featured version. They could even modularize the features and allow you to turn on as many as you want in the full version. I mean, do you think the typical web user cares about mouse gestures? They'd sure benefit from a fast, light browser with a small download size though.

But another reason people like Firefox is they feel in control of it, something that they dearly missed in IE. Webpages can be controlled, ads can be controlled, extensions can be controlled, settings can be controlled, even the source code itself can be controlled. If you want something, you can contribute ideas, contribute extensions, or even contribute source code itself. Firefox is yours, Opera is not.

Posted by: benspace on June 10, 2005 02:55 PM

"Your right, the topic wasnt about which is better, but it always comes down to it. Proof of that can also be found in the many statements by Firefox users proclaiming they love it and Opera sucks."

We haven't had all that many of those this time around. (Thankfully!) When they happen, just to ignore them. (Don't feed the trolls!) If they have nothing better to say, why dignify them with an answer?

Posted by: David Naylor on June 10, 2005 02:57 PM

"Firefox is yours, Opera is not."

That was kind of untrue, and unnecessary at best.

Posted by: David Naylor on June 10, 2005 02:58 PM

I like your "control" theory Ben, makes sense and the reasons behing it are quite true. Although I don't think that is in fact the reason behind Firefox's use (or at least the majority), it is good.

Yeah, Asa did provide an interesting suggestion, however I think he had different motivations for suggesting that. Because he knows that making a less featurefull, watered-down free Opera without ads would take away it's splendor, and since the free version is the most used, that would be the basis for what people judge whole browser itself.

Opera does however need to figure something out, because the ads are killing
it's user base which is very very small in the US. Perhaps similar to Asa's suggestion, just without loss of features, they can merely remove the email, and irc client
WITH all the other fuctionality intact, and be a stand-alone browser. I can only imagine how much small it would be, as it is already only a little over 3MB with all that stuff.

Posted by: DanVersion1 on June 10, 2005 03:08 PM

"This bashing crap is causing delays, look at Konquerer and iCab at how they have gone to beat the Acid2 test and in a few short weeks have better standards than Opera & Mozilla."

This is wrong on several levels:

1. They aren't passing Acid2 because of "lack of bashing crap".
2. That Acid2 is fixed (is it? In a public version?) doesn't mean that their standards support GENERALLY is better.

Posted by: Rick on June 10, 2005 04:17 PM

"But another reason people like Firefox is they feel in control of it, something that they dearly missed in IE. Webpages can be controlled, ads can be controlled, extensions can be controlled, settings can be controlled, even the source code itself can be controlled. If you want something, you can contribute ideas, contribute extensions, or even contribute source code itself. Firefox is yours, Opera is not."

Typical Firefox fanboy FUD. There are lots of ways to customize and personalize Opera. In fact, Opera has had stuff like user style sheets and minimum font size, as well as other detailed page controls for YEARS! Firefox is of course trying to catch up. You know Greasemonkey? Opera had an early implementation of User JS YEARS ago when they used it to "borkify" MSN.

Opera simply gives greater control over web pages than Firefox, end of story. Opera doesn't require a restart when changing themes either...

Posted by: Rick on June 10, 2005 04:21 PM

David Naylor: Sorry, it just seemed to me like you were bashing a fair point ;-)

benspace: I think open source is a good thing, but unless you are a really good coder and have the respect and time, it doesn't mean you control it any more than you control Opera. I dont think you know how much Opera can be extended upon (compared to firefox) by regular users who dont code.

I use Linux, even though it would be easier for me to stay in the lullaby Windows world which you cant really administer without 10 years of windows system education. But I dont. Why? Because Windows sucks in so many ways. Too many of the behaviours of Windows cant be changed. And if you try to change some of them, via the registry, it is unsupported. Windows doesn't come in a new and improved version every other month, it is barely secure and it costs a lot of money. But taking it from there to thinking all proprietary is evil and takes control away from the user is, well - stupid. Sometimes you cant see the wood for all the trees, and I think a lot of Firefox fans who jump at the open source argument fall into that trap.

Posted by: Toman on June 10, 2005 04:38 PM

"If you want something, you can contribute ideas, contribute extensions, or even contribute source code itself."

Typical Firefox fanboy FUD. There are lots of ways to customize and personalize Opera.

You can edit Opera's source code? Make suggestions directly to the developers? Write your own extensions? Report bugs and watch as progress is (or isn't)* made?

Cool! I'll have to try it!

*I've reported bugs to both Firefox and Opera over the years. The two bugs I reported to Opera (on the 7.60 preview) remain unfixed, and I have no idea whether they've done more than look at the report. With Firefox, I can at least see which bugs are being worked on and which are not.

Posted by: Kelson on June 10, 2005 04:47 PM

Kelson: Opera devs and support are frequently seen in forums, newsgroups and on IRC, taking part in discussions and reporting on fixed and not fixed bugs, why they may not have been fixed, and if fixes are making it into the next release or not. Of course this isn't the same as open source development, but it answers your comments :) Bugs that are discussed in the open with a 'positive' response from other users, are more likely to be fixed.

Posted by: Toman on June 10, 2005 04:55 PM

Toman: Good to know, I wasn't aware of that. I reported a couple of CSS bugs, both admittedly obscure, but one of which actually causes text to disappear, back in December, on the 7.60 preview. From what I could tell the bugs had appeared in versions 7.2 and 7.5, and the last time I had tested that particular page with Opera must have been early in the 7.x cycle. I was frustrated at the time that I couldn't track the bugs' status, and the forums never occurred to me.

Posted by: Kelson on June 10, 2005 05:12 PM

Rick: On the official WaSP (The Web Standards Project) site in the annoucement of iCab and Konquerer passing the Acid2 test , it states towards the bottom "With heavyweights Explorer, Firefox and Opera distracted by things like security and release schedules, the lesser-known browsers have shown their quality.". While that doesnt necessarily justify me saying that bashing is resulting in Opera and Mozilla not passing, I know that Mozilla is certainly getting affected with first Asa's flaming of Opera and then Ben Goodger dissing the KDE team. Not to mention countless tech people questioning Firefox's security, however that is another topic entirely.

And no, the Acid2 test is not fixed. Oddly enough IE peeps were making that claim too, since the test was essentially made by Opera, whose CEO runs the WaSP. They claimed that it was fixed and Opera was going to be the only one who would pass it. But look, three other browsers all which are not Opera nor based off of Opera, have passed it. No Gecko ones have either.

And yes, it does mean those who passed have better standards, as many CSS3 (which hasnt even officially release i think)as well as some advanced CSS2 rules were needed to be adopted.

Kelson: Well, I wouldnt necessarily call Opera's bug system bad, especially since Mozilla's Bugzilla tracking is soon too have over a million bugs just changed to CONFIRMED from they're UNRESOLVED status, as they havent been worked on and were piling up, as well as were mostly duplicates. I've filed many bugs into Bugzilla for over a year, and in that time they have either not been resolved or they were, but then a regression caused them again.

Posted by: DanVersion1 on June 10, 2005 06:58 PM

Well, I wouldnt necessarily call Opera's bug system bad, especially since Mozilla's Bugzilla tracking is soon too have over a million bugs just changed to CONFIRMED from they're UNRESOLVED status...

OK, two things:

1. What does that say about Opera's bug system?
2. Over a million bugs? That's a neat trick, considering that Bugzilla hasn't broken 300,000 yet.

As for Acid2:

And yes, it does mean those who passed have better standards

Better than before, certainly. Better than Mozilla or Opera? Not necessarily. It's entirely possible for Browser A to support more of the spec than Browser B, but Browser B to handle a particular feature that Browser A does not. For example, I've found Mozilla and Opera to have better overall support than Safari, but Safari is the only one of the three that handles the text-shadow property.

What we need is a recent feature comparison that includes the latest stable and public alpha/beta of each browser.

I'm absolutely astounded by the difference between the last iCab 2.9.8 beta I saw and the new iCab 3.0 beta. It used to be just slightly better than Netscape 4 at CSS support, but the new version has at least handled everything I've thrown at it. Not pixel-perfect, but certainly good enough that I could justify recommending it to people still using Mac OS 8-9.

Posted by: Kelson on June 10, 2005 07:48 PM

Too funny! You guys all need a f* life, you know that, right?

Posted by: Bill Gates on June 10, 2005 08:04 PM

"You can edit Opera's source code?"

No, but only a tiny minority will ever find this to be of any use. Ever tried reading someone else's code?!

"Make suggestions directly to the developers?"

Sure.

"Write your own extensions?"

Sure, Opera can be extended in a number of ways.

"Report bugs and watch as progress is (or isn't)* made?"

Bugs can be reported, and there are frequent preview versions that show progress. But this has got NOTHING to do with controlling just about everything, which Opera does far better than Firefox. Without requiring a restart.

"With heavyweights Explorer, Firefox and Opera distracted by things like security and release schedules, the lesser-known browsers have shown their quality."

This is assuming that security holes are patched by the same people who work on page rendering or who would be working on Acid2.

"And no, the Acid2 test is not fixed."

Huh?

"the test was essentially made by Opera, whose CEO runs the WaSP."

Huh?! Hakon Wium Lie is a member of WaSP, and Opera's CTO.

"They claimed that it was fixed and Opera was going to be the only one who would pass it."

Bullshit. Opera never claimed that they would pass it first or be the only ones.

"But look, three other browsers all which are not Opera nor based off of Opera, have passed it."

Yeah, they use the same rendering engine. So what if they aren't based on Opera? Opera never claimed that they would be the first to pass it.

"And yes, it does mean those who passed have better standards"

No, it means that they have fixed certain well known problems in today's browsers. Konqueror is still worse than Opera and Mozilla when it comes to standards compliance.

Posted by: Rick on June 10, 2005 08:38 PM

"They claimed that [Acid2] was fixed and Opera was going to be the only one who would pass it."

Bullshit. Opera never claimed that they would pass it first or be the only ones.

My, my, such language. If you'll re-read his original post, he was saying that IE Fans were claiming the test was fixed so that Opera would pass it first. Robert Scoble in particular complained loudly that it was nothing but a publicity stunt for Opera.

"But look, three other browsers all which are not Opera nor based off of Opera, have passed it."

Yeah, they use the same rendering engine. So what if they aren't based on Opera?

Two out of three. iCab is not based on WebCore. If it was, it could not run on Mac Classic.

Opera never claimed that they would be the first to pass it.

And DanVersion1 never claimed that Opera made that claim.

What was your point, again?

Posted by: Kelson on June 10, 2005 09:58 PM

"but Safari is the only one of the three that handles the text-shadow property"

Wasn't the text-shadow property abandoned in CSS 2.1? (And I'm merely asking, not bashing anyone or anything here...)

"What we need is a recent feature comparison that includes the latest stable and public alpha/beta of each browser."

See this page.

"Bullshit. Opera never claimed that they would pass it first or be the only ones."

I think you got the wrong end of the stick there. You are both argumenting for Opera's side...

Posted by: David Naylor on June 11, 2005 01:08 AM

David: Thanks for the link! Bookmarked!

As for text-shadow -- you may be right, I don't see it in the 2.1 spec.

(And I'm merely asking, not bashing anyone or anything here...)

What's sad is that you had to include that disclaimer. Tempers are waaaay too hot among some of the posters here.

Posted by: Kelson on June 11, 2005 11:17 AM

You can edit Opera's source code?
No, although both Opera and FF are actively developed and follow same web standards, so from users' POV it doesn't matter. If you want to get involved, only you can do is to apply for position at Opera.

Make suggestions directly to the developers?
Yes, there is wishlist forum which is watched and commented by Opera reps.

Write your own extensions?
Yes, I've written one. You have userJS for page tweaks, panels for making tools/UI and custom buttons/toolbars/menus which can use both JS and script all functions from Opera UI.

Report bugs and watch as progress is (or isn't)* made?
Yes, you can post bugs directly to Opera BTS. There are public betas, changelogs and devs post comments/blog about Opera internal issues.

Posted by: porneL on June 11, 2005 02:05 PM

DanVersion1: ...Because [Asa] knows that making a less featurefull, watered-down free Opera without ads would take away it's splendor, and since the free version is the most used, that would be the basis for what people judge whole browser itself.
I can only speak from personal experience, but I would be happy with just a new fast, small, ad-free browser to run alongside Firefox.

Toman: ...But taking it from there to thinking all proprietary is evil and takes control away from the user is, well - stupid. Sometimes you cant see the wood for all the trees, and I think a lot of Firefox fans who jump at the open source argument fall into that trap.
I am "in the trees", because I've written a couple of extensions for my own use so far and couldn't imagine not having XUL at this point. Greasemonkey and Aardvark are really cool too. But I admit, the typical user wouldn't care about that. (disclaimer: I'm not pretending I'm some big coder, I just like to tinker)

While also a linux user, I don't hate proprietary software. I often defend Microsoft. XP SP2 isn't as bad as many people make it out to be. IE, for the most part, is worse.

Okay, maybe I'll try Opera again now that 8.0 is more streamlined. Maybe I'll learn something. But more likely, the ads will just give me the heeby jeebies again.

Posted by: benspace on June 12, 2005 01:45 AM

Here's an even better comparison and list of compliance of all (almost) browsers.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_web_browsers
It is constanntly updated and is extremely informative.

Posted by: DanVersion1 on June 12, 2005 03:03 AM

Yeah that's a good one too, but the other one has great detailed information of the implementations of all the CSS properties, etc. The wikipedia one compares features too, which the previous one OTOH doesn't.

Posted by: David Naylor on June 12, 2005 06:26 AM

Hah. Just checked back here to see how this had gone. Love it that Opera are being encouraged to drop 1/3 of their revenue because they'd survive without it.

Comedy Central has nothing on this stuff. Pure gold.

Posted by: Andrew D on June 12, 2005 02:01 PM

Hah. And you ignoring the possible benefits stated as reasons to do so is pretty funny too. Or wait...

Posted by: David Naylor on June 12, 2005 03:37 PM

Actions speak louder than words.

Asa may say he doesn't hate Opera, but with posts like the recent "4m vs 60m downloads", it's impossible to draw any other conclusion.

Posted by: Dan100 on June 14, 2005 03:18 AM

"If Opera can start taking significant market share away from IE, I will be cheering right along with the Opera users".

That's an odd comments, seeing as Asa only recently said it's not about 'beating IE', but about providing a better Internet experience.

Posted by: Dan100 on June 14, 2005 03:20 AM

"but with posts like the recent "4m vs 60m downloads""

...which was merely a question...

"That's an odd comments, seeing as Asa only recently said it's not about 'beating IE', but about providing a better Internet experience."

Yeah, that's what they say, isn't it. :-)

Posted by: David Naylor on June 14, 2005 05:49 AM

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