A very interesting though perhaps a bit far fetched rumor has just surfaced, Facebook is interested in buying Opera, the browser maker. That seems outlandish for a second, but it would make a lot of sense for Facebook and perhaps for Opera as well.
Apparently, Facebook is interested in buying the browser maker. There's nothing too serious at the moment, Facebook is just looking into it, but the simple fact that it's interested is telling. But no other details are available.
It seems though that Opera is indeed looking for buyers as, while it isn't exactly struggling, it hasn't been flying high either, as a company.
Opera has struggled to gain market share for years
Opera is one of the oldest browsers around, but its market share is paltry on the desktop, it always has been and it's very likely that it will stay that way no matter what the company does, since the problem has never been the browser which is at least on par with the major competitors, Chrome and Firefox.
Chrome on the other hand went on to become the most popular browser on the planet, in less than four years since launch. With Facebook behind it, Opera may finally start making some inroad on the desktop and consolidate its position in the mobile space.
Facebook needs more control over the platform, web and mobile
For Facebook, the need is even more obvious. All of its major competitors have their own browsers, Google has Chrome, Apple has Safari. What's more, they also have mobile platforms, iOS and Android.
Facebook needs both if it wants to become the largest internet and tech company on the planet, and it does. A browser would solve quite a lot of problems.
For one, it would offer it an avenue into people's computers that it controls, not Google, Microsoft or Apple and not Mozilla for that matter. This is important for one big reason, web apps. Facebook is committed to creating an app platform to compete with Google and Apple's.
What's more, Opera is already quite popular as a mobile browser, particularly with feature phones where it dominates the market. Billions of people have no access to the web than via feature phones and those billion users could be worth a lot to Facebook.
What's more, Opera has a solid browser for smartphones as well, albeit a less popular one. It would allow Facebook to nest itself into many devices and have some control over the process. There's even an Opera browser for iPhone, albeit it's Opera Mini not the full fledged version.
Facebook doesn't need a browser as much as Google
But there are plenty of arguments against the deal too. For one, Facebook is already big enough to control its fate. Still, the fact that it was forced to offer an incomplete app platform on iOS devices was perhaps enough for Facebook to realize that it needs more control over mobile platforms.
A browser has obvious advantages for Google, being the default search engine for hundreds of millions of people for one, but less so for Facebook.
Opera's views on the web may clash with Facebook's
Opera may not be doing great, but it has endured so far and is profitable. What's more, it's always championed the open web and privacy options, it may not want to be tied down to a major player like Facebook.