Opera CEO: Browser Ready for Its Next Act

Jon von Tetzchner discusses the software maker's plans to add new innovations, such as voice technology, to the Web browser and to beat main competitor Microsoft in the mobile browser market.

For browser maker Opera Software ASA, 2004 has been a busy year. The Norwegian company went public on the Oslo Stock Exchange, synced up its Web browsers with its Version 7.50 release and made more inroads onto mobile devices.

/zimages/1/28571.gifClick here to read eWEEK Labs review of the latest Opera release.

Its biggest challenge may be yet to come: grabbing share from Microsoft Corp., whose Internet Explorer dominates the browser market. Opera CEO Jon von Tetzchner says he is optimistic about the opportunity, particularly as mobile devices become the prevalent way for people to connect to the Internet.

Von Tetzchner, while visiting San Francisco recently, sat down with eWEEK.com Senior Writer Matt Hicks to discuss Operas plans and the future of the Web browser.

With the recent IPO, is that allowing you to expand in any specific areas at this point?

Basically, we are expanding. We havent lost the focus of the company. Our focus is on client-side Internet software. That doesnt mean we wont do anything on the server side ever, but in a way thats not our focus.

You dont have any server products today, right?

No.

Is there anything on the roadmap?

We may well release something, but again you could call it companions to the browser—things to improve the experience one way or another. But the focus is on the client side. Were not really that keen to get into the server business or the services business. There has been a lot of interest in us doing that. People see what we do on the client side and want us to expand, but we would rather work through partners. But we may well do some things ourselves as well, when necessary.

You were saying that you often get pressure from customers about the need for some server-side software. Why? What is their need there? Is this to have some kind of replacement for their existing e-mail server, for instance?

No, no. This is more a part of us moving into the telco business. Were talking to operators, and they want their Opera Platform solution, which Im not sure if you are familiar with.

Slightly.

Basically, its a front end for mobile phones which is customized from servers. You can do a lot of things and a lot of services on the server side that cooperate with the Opera Platform technology. So in a way, we are enabling this technology through what we do on the client. Sometimes, they would like to see a one-stop shop. So although its not really what wed like to do, we may well have to do a couple of things there …

When you were talking about the telcos, so today when theyre deploying the Opera Platform on their specific phones, in their specific service and on the server side theyre running stuff from other partners? Who are some of your partners there?

You can use any solution …

Any app server?

Any Web server solution, basically. Then there are some solutions for multicasting and things like that which we can also work with. We are flexible. … We listen to the customer and give the customer what they want.

Next page: Desktop browser versus the mobile browser.