Opera Acquires FastMail.fm for E-Mail Services

By Nicholas Kolakowski  |  Posted 2010-04-30

Opera Software announced the acquisition April 30 of FastMail.fm, a cloud-based e-mail provider. While Opera has offered an e-mail client with its desktop browser for a number of years, the new acquisition will expand the company's messaging-product portfolio to devices such as phones, televisions and gaming consoles.

"The newest generation of Web users will discover the Web through a mobile device," Rolf Assev, Opera's chief strategy officer, said in an April 30 statement. "Having world-class messaging capability alongside a rich and compelling Web experience is essential. By combining forces, Opera and FastMail.fm can offer messaging on any device."

That could yield dividends for Opera as it seeks to expand. On April 13, the company released Opera Mini for the iPhone, which was downloaded onto more than 1 million Apple devices within two days, making it the top-ranked mobile application in Apple's App Store.

Opera Mini for the iPhone shares many features with other mobile versions of Opera, including tabbed browsing, a focus on increased speed and 90 percent data compression. Previously, Opera has released betas of Opera Mini 5 for Google Android and Windows Mobile 5.x and 6.x smartphones.

Opera co-founder Jon von Tetzschner claimed in a March interview with eWEEK that Opera's desktop-based and mobile browsers have between 120 million and 150 million active users worldwide, a number he claimed was extrapolated from data on Opera's servers. The browsers' strongest base currently exists in Central and Eastern Europe, Africa and Asia, which von Tetzschner suggested was responsible for Opera being undercounted by analysis companies that sample largely from Western Europe and North America.

In a bid to solidify its PC presence, Opera released a new emulator: "Developers can now install a full version of Opera Mobile, as well as the Opera Widgets Mobile Emulator, and test Websites from the comfort of their desktop computers," the company said in the April 22 announcement.

According to analytics company StatCounter, Opera Mini is currently the most-used smartphone browser, with 24.6 percent of the market, edging ahead of Apple's Safari browser for the iPhone, which has 22.3 percent. If both the iPhone and iPod Touch are included in those calculations, Apple's share rises to 37.2 percent.

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