Opera Unite Debuts to Challenge Google, Mozilla in Web Services
Opera unleashes Unite, a self-contained client-server platform designed to enable messaging and collaboration via Web services. Unite, which could give Google, Mozilla and Microsoft a run for their Web services money, doesn't rely on third-party servers, storing all data directly within the Opera Web browser. Opera hints at business scenarios for Unite, but large enterprises will be loath to embrace it because of potential security risks.Challenging Mozilla, Google, and Microsoft in the nascent Web services arena, Opera June 16 unveiled Opera Unite, a Web service platform which computers create Web sites, chat and share files without letting user data grace third-party servers during the data exchange.
Our computers are only dumb terminals connected to other computers (meaning servers) owned by other people - such as large corporations - who we depend upon to host our words, thoughts, and images. We depend on them to do it well and with our best interests at heart. We place our trust in these third parties, and we hope for the best, but as long as our own computers are not first class citizens on the Web, we are merely tenants, and hosting companies are the landlords of the Internet.Unite is designed to address the "who owns the data?" problem. For example, more than 400 million users house their personal data on social networks such as Facebook and MySpace, while millions of users let Google store their data for Google Apps such as Gmail. Eng suggested Unite will allow programmers to build social networks and other Web services that don't horde users' data. Opera Unite is available in a special version of the Opera 10 desktop browser and may be downloaded from Opera Labs here. ReadWriteWeb offers screenshots and a video demonstration of Unite here. While current applications for Unite are geared for consumers, Eng envisions Unite will play well in the enterprise. He suggested knowledge workers will be able to leverage collaboration applications such as spreadsheets, documents or wikis, "without having to host them on a third-party site such as Google Spreadsheets or installing specialized applications on a dedicated server" using reverse Ajax or "COMET" techniques. Such scenarios would likely only work for small businesses and not larger businesses, which tend to put more strict controls over proprietary data. Indeed, analysts have already noted security risks associated with a platform like Unite.