Facebook replaces Chrome with Opera as suggested browser

1 Jun 2012

Could this be confirmation of Facebook’s plans to buy the Norwegian software firm?

In a bold move that perhaps reveals more than intended, Facebook has changed its landing page for visitors using unsupported browsers to suggest they try Internet Explorer, Firefox or Opera instead – ousting the Google browser from its recommendations.

Rumours that Facebook was interested in acquiring Opera Software began circulating last week following a report on Pocket-lint citing a “trusted” source. The speculation alone was enough for Opera’s shares to then jump to a two-year high, increasing 26pc and valuing the company around the US$800m mark.

Though Opera is reportedly speaking to potential buyers, Facebook has declined to comment on the potential acquisition and Opera’s founder and chief shareholder, Jon S Von Tetzchner, has been just as withholding, telling Reuters he wants the firm to focus on growth and delivering good results.

Where to next for Facebook?

With the money coming in from its IPO, there have been many guesses as to where Facebook is to make a move next. It could be that it wants to manufacture a smartphone, it could be it is seeking a partnership with Vevo, or it could be it is planning to develop its own browser.

While competition for the world’s No 1 is largely a three-browser race between Microsoft’s Internet Explorer, Mozilla’s Firefox and Google’s Chrome, Opera’s strength lies in the mobile market and it is often the browser of choice for Android users.

Around 200m people use Opera Mobile and Opera Mini and, on top of its significant market share, Opera has also cracked the revenue problem on mobile web by offering a free app (pre-loaded on many models) and selling advertising on its home screen.

An Opera takeover would likely boost Facebook’s mobile potential – something that has been noted as a bit of a blind spot for the company. And, Google can rest easy despite this slight as StatCounter confirms it is coming out on top as the internet’s browser of choice.

Elaine Burke is the host of For Tech’s Sake, a co-production from Silicon Republic and The HeadStuff Podcast Network. She was previously the editor of Silicon Republic.