Opera sales soars on carrier deals

Diana ben-Aaron and Meera Bhatia
30 Sep 2010

Opera Software sees operators such as Vodafone Group bringing in more revenue as carriers seek to wrest a piece of the $226 billion market for mobile services away from Apple, Google and Nokia.

The Norwegian maker of desktop and mobile-phone Web browsers is building service platforms with 12 of the world’s 30 biggest carriers, including AT&T. and Vodafone, chief executive officer Lars Boilesen, 43, said in an interview.

“There’s a battle going on between the brand manufacturers and the operators, and we may be betting a little more on the operators,” Boilesen said. “We’re going for all of them.”

Apple, Google and Nokia have built software and media download shops to capture customers’ cash and loyalty, frustrating operators who want to expand services beyond ringtones and screen wallpapers. Some operators are using Opera’s software to fight back as new mobile broadband networks in countries such as Russia and India make it easier for customers to load their phones with extras.

Phone companies use the Opera Mini browser to present content and applications on cheaper handsets, paying the Oslo- based company between 1 euro ($1.31) and 3 euros per active user a year, Boilesen said. Operators generated more than 30 percent of Opera’s 168.9 million kroner ($27.7 million) in sales in the second quarter and are set to increase.

The Opera Mini versions developed with carriers have grown from almost no users at the start of the year to 5.2 million revenue-generating users at midyear, according to the company.

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