There’s story spreading that Facebook is interested to buy Opera browser to create its own custom “social” browser and compete with the likes of Google, Apple and Microsoft.
It’s been revealed that one of Facebook’s biggest challenges is in mobile (one reason why they bought Instagram), the odds are stacked against it compared to in the desktop arena. There’s Google that also doing advertising (Adsense for Mobile) and has monopoly of the Android environment with its built-in browser, Apple which is also heavily pushing its own Safari browser on mobile and Microsoft with its big reach and distribution network to leverage IE Mobile on Windows Phone handsets.
That leaves Facebook very little to wiggle around when it comes to prime access on the mobile web, except of course thru the iOS and Android apps.
While the idea of owning and deploying a Facebook Browser might make sense, I am not as equally sure if Opera would be the right candidate for Facebook.
Yes, Opera claims it has over 200 million users (both desktop and mobile) so that’s a lot of users that Facebook can also acquire (we’re not yet discounting the overlap of users here which is probably more than half of that number).
Nevertheless, that’s hundreds of millions of users that Facebook will just eventually lose to either Chrome, IE9 (when Windows 8 comes), and Mozilla. So if Facebook is going to buy Opera, the only really useful part of that trade would be the mobile users. In the end, they will just waste half the money on Opera.
My suggestion for an alternative to Opera would be Dolphin Browser. It’s a good alternative — a mature, mobile-only browser that’s already have hundreds of thousands (and maybe even millions of users) already. It’s also highly rated, got good reviews, and is available for the iPhone, iPad and Android devices. It does not have a desktop browser, which Facebook does not need anyway (again their focus for acquisitions is always mobile).
Of course, Zuckerberg had bazillions of dollars to splurge on a buying spree and Opera might just look like spare change to him. I just thought Dolphin browser is the better browser between the two.