I came across this link (Facebook To Buy Opera? Maybe. Here’s What We Hear) earlier. It got me thinking about what that could mean for the browser wars. Right now, Opera has less than 2% of all web users browsing with it’s browser on the desktop, although they have 15%-20% of all mobile browser traffic.
Facebook meanwhile has a ton of users. They might have to be a little careful, but they could promote Opera to their users and increase Opera’s user base. But more importantly, Facebook can use the experience Opera’s developers have with mobile.
Opera is a good browser, technically on par with Firefox and Chrome, and beats out Internet Explorer 9 due to it’s faster upgrade cycle and greater CSS support. If Opera picks up some users due to greater exposure, regardless of whether Facebook purchases them, it could be a good thing for the web.
Right now Opera doesn’t really have enough clout to affect how people code for the web. Many developers don’t bother to include Opera prefixes in their CSS or even test in the browser due to the low market share. With a greater prominence and usage, it would present another browser to test against, other bugs to squash. The hope would be that the new Opera users would come at Internet Explorer’s expense, specifically versions 7 and 8, and so more users would be able to take advantage of the newest features of CSS3 and HTML5.