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The Future of the Opera Brand (?)

  • I have been an Opera User since it's earliest days and at one point even paid for an "ad-free" version many years ago. When the move to Chronium was announced; like most, my reaction was a feeling of disappointment and concern. However, I decided to roll with the punches and try to use the newer versions with some optimism that they would eventually become something like the old Opera I knew and loved. Recently, I learned via these forums that now my "myopera" email accounts will now be canceled. Worse, I did not learn from a notification from Opera itself but from a mention in the user forums. You would think a company would email its email users to inform them --- it's sort of a fundamental of customer management if you are providing e-mail services.

    It may seem like a small thing, but dropping the email service --- the latest in a succession of feature and service cuts -- was the last straw for me and now I have fully shifted back to Mozilla for both my web browsing and POP email. Vanquished from my computer is Opera 12, Opera 17, and Opera Mail; and Opera mobile in gone from my phone. I just felt that I had had enough with Opera and it's continued disregard for its user base. What is interesting, is that I found my decision to be as much emotional as it was rational. For example I could have kept the Opera mail client to use with my other accounts as I had become quite accustomed to using it and find it very intuitive to use.

    My own feelings and the widespread negative and often emotional comments from many in Opera's forums caused me to reflect on why we care so much. I mean, as other users have pointed out --- it is only a browser -- find another! But Opera is not "only a browser" . For me. and I suspect many others, Opera was my "gateway to the internet" for many years and frankly my "Comfort Zone" for the many hours spent online. The "Value" of Opera cannot be defined in bits and bytes, or features and benefits alone, but by the good will it has developed within it's user base. Niche brands like Opera tend to have much more loyal and enthusiastic user bases. The "Brand Value" of such niche products lies in it's user base, not in easy to replicate features.

    Why would a company destroy it's good will within it's long time hard core user base?

    1) Perhaps it is facing financial difficulties and needs to cut back wherever it can. This is possible, but from what little information I have been able to find. The company seems to be doing pretty well financially.

    2) It's management and (in particular) , marketing/PR people are incompetent to the point of historic proportions. I guess this is possible (Nokia comes to mind as a precedent) but I prefer to give the benefit of the doubt.

    3) Opera is about to be absorbed by a larger entity that already has it's own user base and needs the Opera brand for other reasons (e.g., brand awareness, strong mobile presence, technical expertise in browser development.)

    It is the latter point that I feel is most likely to be the biggest factor in Opera's decision to alienate its user base and also withdraw it's community oriented services, Admittedly this is only speculation, and I have no insider knowledge, but this really looks like a case of a company realigning it's assets and services to suit a potential buyer or partner. Most of us remember the Facebook rumors of last year and I can think of no company whose values run more counter to Opera's previously cherished values as a brand to be trusted. The mere prospect of having a browser owned by Facebook is enough to want it off my machine. Other possibilities? Maybe Yandex or even Yahoo who seems to be trying to reassert itself against Google and Microsoft.

    If I were a gambling man, I would wager that Opera will be bought up by or otherwise joined with another major internet oriented player within the next 12 months. Of course I could be wrong, but the point is the brand has lost my trust. The fact that they are making internet privacy harder adds to this feeling. A Unified Search box is not a good thing for privacy. The fact that you cannot set DDG or ISQuick as a default search engine suggests Opera is moving increasingly selling out to the big guys rather than respecting user customization and privacy options. The problem with Opera is not their (probably over-worked) developers, but rather their management of their Brand reputation.

    Opera is a business and nobody can begrudge them their efforts to make money. Change also is a fact of life, particularly in the technology sector. But when a company begins to take the trust of its users for granted, it is not a good thing; and an internet without the old Opera we knew and trusted, is a lesser internet.

    Ps: A special shout-out and thank you to the many forum members who have helped me over the years --- the names "Burnout" and "Harvaard" come to mind in particular. I have never participated in these forums so never had the opportunity to say thank you for the many times I found useful information here.

    Peace out.

  • What we learn from the devs comments (including Haavard's) around here is that the move from Opera-Presto to Chromium was an engineering-led decision more than anything.

    Originally posted by brucelawson:

    The switch to using Chromium was an engineering-led decision, not a management decision to cut costs. It allows us to get an engine that thousands of developers work on (including our own, and we commit changes back for any other browser to use), that is compatible with most big websites and that we can build on top of.

    Source.

    I've seem another developer commenting about how the Opera-Presto code was hard to maintain and introduce new features into it too, I just don't remember where. Observe how hardware acceleration was disabled by default. Remember OOPP (out-of-process plug-ins)? Went final, caused even more crashes with plug-ins and was disabled on the following Opera 12 release. This is while Chromium has mastered these technical performance and stability features, and was outpacing Opera in the implementation of new web standards ("HTML5"). So I think it's a valid point, all of that combined with the compatibility problems they had to tackle constantly because of clueless web developers contributed to this move.

    Originally posted by aperture-focus:

    Most of us remember the Facebook rumors of last year and I can think of no company whose values run more counter to Opera's previously cherished values as a brand to be trusted.

    The paranoid privacy freaks users (which tweaked every bit of option trying to prevent tracking, analyzing network logs, etc) which are in fact a minority may see it but I can't really see incompatibilities between the two companies, in the end it all boils down to settings (e.g. search suggestions are enabled by default in Opera 12). Specially when there's no "Facebook browser" available so one would be able check what kinds of things it would collect (simple anonymous usage statistics, or tracking the full history? etc - different things that could have different user prefs to disable). We can't really know which settings such browser would offer.

    About Opera being acquired... I wouldn't really care as long as the values doesn't change, as long as they keep giving us the functionalities of this great browser no matter what name it's under and as long as their employees are happy with it.

    Originally posted by aperture-focus:

    A Unified Search box is not a good thing for privacy.

    Disable the search suggestions in the settings, simple.

    Originally posted by aperture-focus:

    The fact that you cannot set DDG or ISQuick as a default search engine suggests Opera is moving increasingly selling out to the big guys rather than respecting user customization and privacy options.

    They want to be able to implement a search engine hijacking protection before offering the option. One can easily bypass the limitation by using search engine keywords...

  • Thank you for reply --- but I am afraid you missed my point.

    1) First of all --- the changes going on with Opera are far more than just moving on from Presto. Yes I am sure the developers had input (and possibly led) as to moving towards Chronium. However Developers rarely LEAD the strategic planning process for a mature company like Opera --- they make technical recommendations based on the strategic direction set by the management of the company. In this case (and as outlined in my previous post) it seems clear that the company is moving away from the interests of it's traditional user base towards something more murky. How murky? Time will tell.

    2) It seems you are very arrogantly dismissive to those users who care about data privacy, calling them " paranoid privacy freaks users". Privacy concerns are not just the realm of the tin foil hat conspiracy theorist ---- it is about freedom of the internet. Tracking is about getting knowledge which leads to control over what you can see --- and ultimately what you can say --- whether it is MNCs or overly-intrusive governments. I think people who hide behind the idea of "If you have nothing to hide then why worry?" approach to privacy are probably too young to remember the pre-internet era and thus are ignorant about the impact the internet has had in opening up access to information, different perspectives etc. It really is a shame so many people do not understand how important having a "free internet" is.

    3) I simply cannot agree with you that Opera's decision to force users to use a unified search box and to limit it's default search engines to the big (paying ones) are somehow limited to technical limitations like concerns about browser hi-jackings. Engines like DDG and Ixquick are popular enough now that adding them to a list of possible default search engines would be extremely simple. It seems that Opera is moving in the direction of making users jump through as many hoops as possible to have a good -- private -- browsing experience --- whereas previously the browser was the most customizable browser around.

    4) One certainly should care about who Opera is acquired by, as the acquiring party will set the strategic direction for Opera. I simply cannot imagine any informed user wanting to depend on a browser owned by Facebook.

    As I said -- time will tell. It is not just about a feature/technical reset ---- it is about destroying their brand good will and user trust.

  • Originally posted by aperture-focus:

    it seems clear that the company is moving away from the interests of it's traditional user base towards something more murky. How murky? Time will tell.

    The ideology is split between extensions and unique features/options built-in, there's a power user mode in Opera 19, let's see how it'll shape up indeed. Outside of this new mode, some people hinted at ways to customize keyboard shortcuts (with one example showing the practical possibility of this here).

    Originally posted by aperture-focus:

    It really is a shame so many people do not understand how important having a "free internet" is.

    No tracking technology is stopping you from accessing any websites. They serve targeted ads and bubble search results at most...

    Originally posted by aperture-focus:

    I simply cannot agree with you that Opera's decision to force users to use a unified search box and to limit it's default search engines to the big (paying ones) are somehow limited to technical limitations like concerns about browser hi-jackings. Engines like DDG and Ixquick are popular enough now that adding them to a list of possible default search engines would be extremely simple.

    I'm not agreeing or disagreeing over the cause of the decision, as we are informed it's a fact and they want to bring the option back in the future:
    "The option was removed after we got targeted by malicious third-party "applications". It will return when we can protect against alterations by other apps and not the users themselves." - http://blogs.opera.com/desktop/2013/11/opera-18-landed/#comment-1129887876

    It wouldn't make sense for them to include search engine providers for free considering this list of built-in search engines is how they get revenue, and I don't think it'd be fair to their paying partners either.

    Originally posted by aperture-focus:

    One certainly should care about who Opera is acquired by, as the acquiring party will set the strategic direction for Opera. I simply cannot imagine any informed user wanting to depend on a browser owned by Facebook.

    I wouldn't mind.

  • Well -- it is good we can disagree civilly, but you seem to be missing my points again:

    "The ideology is split between extensions and unique features/options built-in, there's a power user mode in Opera 19, let's see how it'll shape up indeed."

    This is good news if true. But it does not address the issues as to how Opera is now treating privacy after moving to Chronium. In fact their silence is rather condemning given that several have already raised questions about what tracking mechanisms are being incorporated.

    "It wouldn't make sense for them to include search engine providers for free considering this list of built-in search engines is how they get revenue, and I don't think it'd be fair to their paying partners either."

    This is a bit of a strawman argument. I have never said Opera should offer DDG or ICquick as default search engines for free. What I have said is they should maintain what they have done in the past --

    1) Take $$$ from a search engine as the default provider.
    2) Take smaller $$$ from other search engines to be listed as options for default.
    3) Allow users to install their own search engines AND make them the default engine.

    Opera used to offer all of the above. Now it no longer offers all of point 3. This is a clear regression in terms of user customization and privacy options.

    "I wouldn't mind" (As to having Opera as a browser owned by facebook)

    That is your right --- but I think a a large percentage of Opera Users (or anyone who cares about privacy) would find this prospect appalling.

  • Originally posted by aperture-focus:

    Now it no longer offers all of point 3. This is a clear regression in terms of user customization and privacy options.

    To quote text, select it and use the Quick Quote link below the quoted post.

    Originally posted by aperture-focus:

    This is a clear regression in terms of user customization and privacy options.

    It is a clear progression in terms of user security since it prevents malware from hijacking the user's search engine. When they have found a safe solution, they will again allow users to set their own default search engine.

    How is having Google locked as the default search engine a regression in terms of privacy? Users who don't trust Google can still use the search engine of their choice simply by typing the keyword first or by using the search icons on the URL drop list.

  • Originally posted by rafaelluik:

    The ideology is split between extensions and unique features/options built-in, there's a power user mode in Opera 19, let's see how it'll shape up indeed. Outside of this new mode, some people hinted at ways to customize keyboard shortcuts (with one example showing the practical possibility of this here).

    Also see http://my.opera.com/haavard/blog/2013/07/05/12transition-shortcuts

    Originally posted by Pesala:

    How is having Google locked as the default search engine a regression in terms of privacy?

    Can you disable search while you type? Can you disable searching for mistyped addresses? If the answer to those and similar questions I didn't think to ask isn't positive, there's your answer.

  • >I mean, as other users have pointed out --- it is only a browser -- find another! But Opera is not "only a browser" . For me. and I suspect many others, Opera was my "gateway to the internet" for many years and frankly my "Comfort Zone" for the many hours spent online.

    That's well said. I think I went from Netscape to Opera, and used it for about 10 years. Opera is almost like a childhood memory to me, so I'm a bit sad it's going away.

  • Originally posted by aperture-focus:

    +1

  • Originally posted by Pesala:

    It is a clear progression in terms of user security since it prevents malware from hijacking the user's search engine. When they have found a safe solution, they will again allow users to set their own default search engine.

    This puzzles me.
    For many years with Opera I never ever had my search engine selection hijacked - apart from the Opera v12.15/Opera v12.16 incident.

    May be because I was protected by some sort of magic?!

    No, it was very simple - I never did my everyday jobs from an administrative account - I always use the NON-administrative, least-privileged user account.
    This policy saves me from all sorts of attacks - no malware has hit me ever.

    And Opera's insistence in not fixing this v12.15/v12.16 "bug" tells a lot - they do not care about user's privacy anymore...
    😞

  • Originally posted by opera1215b1748:

    Originally posted by Pesala:

    It is a clear progression in terms of user security since it prevents malware from hijacking the user's search engine. When they have found a safe solution, they will again allow users to set their own default search engine.

    This puzzles me. For many years with Opera I never ever had my search engine selection hijacked - apart from the Opera v12.15/Opera v12.16 incident. May be because I was protected by some sort of magic?!

    No, it was very simple - I never did my everyday jobs from an administrative account - I always use the NON-administrative, least-privileged user account. This policy saves me from all sorts of attacks - no malware has hit me ever. And Opera's insistence in not fixing this v12.15/v12.16 "bug" tells a lot - they do not care about user's privacy anymore...
    😞

    Make of it what you will, but Opera has stated that there was an "issue" with this: Opera 12.15 Release notes

    Release date: 2013-04-04
    Opera 12.15 is a recommended upgrade offering security and stability enhancements.
    Fixes and Stability Enhancements since Opera 12.14
    -- General and User Interface
    Fixed an issue where the search bar's default engine could be overridden by third-party apps.
    -- Security
    Fixed a moderately severe issue, as reported by Attila Suszter; details will be disclosed at a later date.
    Added safeguards against attacks on the RC4 encryption protocol; see our advisory.
    Fixed an issue where cookies could be set for a top-level domain; see our advisory.

    I prefer to take those words from the browser's developers at face value - especially when security may be involved.

    As far as why the default bug remains unfixed in 12.15/12.16, just note that it technically also exists in all the "new" Opera versions thus far. The explanation for this from Opera remains the same: they haven't figured out how to both protect the search engine default setting from tampering and allow user engine default selection outside the "hard-coded" options. So either one accepts their explanation, or one believes them to be lying. I have no reason to believe they aren't truthful, though I may not always like some of their design choices. Perhaps they simply value real-world user security against search-engine hijacking more than arguable questions about user search privacy. YMMV.

  • Originally posted by blackbird71:

    I prefer to take those words from the browser's developers at face value - especially when security may be involved.

    I don't take this at face value. The thing is that they don't cite any case or possibility how this hijacking could have occurred, no reference to advisories, nothing. Also the forums here are completely silent about such hijacking. No users ever complained about this. As far as users are concerned, this hijacking never happened.

    Now, I know cases of search engine hijacking. For example Ask.com toolbar and search engine used to arrive sneakily with Flash and Java updates on Windows and install itself on IE and FF. So, yes, such hijacking exists. However, this was always impossible in case of Opera. Opera's widgets and extensions API don't allow such hijacking. With a stretch of wild imagination, you could argue that this hijacking would still be possible against all browsers on Windows, but this imaginary argument, even when conceded for Windows, is absolutely impossible for Linux. But the devs implemented the "fix" for all platforms.

    My verdict is clear. There is no evidence for any third-party app that hijacked a search engine on Opera Presto. Knowing Chromium/Blink, such hijacking is as plausible as on IE and FF, so it's okay that they are working on countering this possibility, but in case of Presto, the "fix" itself is the only hijacker of search engines. And this last thing is what the users actually complain about in these forums.

  • Originally posted by blackbird71:

    Make of it what you will, but Opera has stated that there was an "issue" with this: Opera 12.15 Release notes

    Release date: 2013-04-04
    Opera 12.15 is a recommended upgrade offering security and stability enhancements.
    Fixes and Stability Enhancements since Opera 12.14
    -- General and User Interface
    Fixed an issue where the search bar's default engine could be overridden by third-party apps.

    Google for this issue and let us know what you will find 😉

    BTW, Opera has stated many things lately...

  • Originally posted by blackbird71:

    The explanation for this from Opera remains the same: they haven't figured out how to both protect the search engine default setting from tampering and allow user engine default selection outside the "hard-coded" options.

    If some malware has reached a point where it can manipulate my search.ini, will a reset of the search engine really do me any good? I'd think it'd be more likely to make me oblivious to the problem.

    Originally posted by blackbird71:

    I have no reason to believe they aren't truthful, though I may not always like some of their design choices.

    No reason at all?

    http://my.opera.com/community/forums/findpost.pl?id=14810762

    Originally posted by Frenzie:

    Originally posted by somewhere (unbeknown to me at the time, The Vision Behind Opera 15 and Beyond):

    Off-road mode in Opera 15 adds SPDY to the mix so that your pages render even faster.

    No, it doesn't. Opera 12.10 already added SPDY (proof, or perhaps the official changelog is more to the point). Whoever wrote that is either ignorant or lying.

    http://my.opera.com/ODIN/blog/300-million-users-and-move-to-webkit]

    Originally posted by Bruce Lawson:

    Of course, a browser is much more than just a renderer and a JS engine, so this is primarily an "under the hood" change.

    If you want more, here's a random relevant search result: http://my.opera.com/An-dz/blog/opera-dead

  • Originally posted by ersi:

    Originally posted by blackbird71:

    I prefer to take those words from the browser's developers at face value - especially when security may be involved.

    I don't take this at face value. The thing is that they don't cite any case or possibility how this hijacking could have occurred, no reference to advisories, nothing. Also the forums here are completely silent about such hijacking. No users ever complained about this. As far as users are concerned, this hijacking never happened.

    Now, I know cases of search engine hijacking. For example Ask.com toolbar and search engine used to arrive sneakily with Flash and Java updates on Windows and install itself on IE and FF. So, yes, such hijacking exists. However, this was always impossible in case of Opera. Opera's widgets and extensions API don't allow such hijacking. With a stretch of wild imagination, you could argue that this hijacking would still be possible against all browsers on Windows, but this imaginary argument, even when conceded for Windows, is absolutely impossible for Linux. But the devs implemented the "fix" for all platforms.

    My verdict is clear. There is no evidence for any third-party app that hijacked a search engine on Opera Presto. Knowing Chromium/Blink, such hijacking is as plausible as on IE and FF, so it's okay that they are working on countering this possibility, but in case of Presto, the "fix" itself is the only hijacker of search engines. And this last thing is what the users actually complain about in these forums.

    You seem to be assuming that any vulnerability or security concern has to be exploited/publicized before it is legitimate. Independent testers fuzz-test software all the time and discover previously-unrecognized weaknesses in the code, privately informing the code authors and silently assisting in the correction of the problem. Are you suggesting that the code developers themselves, in working some other problem, are somehow unable to stumble on similar weaknesses and repair them? The developers have clearly stated that: an "issue" exists where the search bar's default engine could be overridden by third-party apps. I take that at face value, and I assume it to be true, else somebody has outright lied. Various devs have since repeated essentially the same assertion with regard to New Opera with regard to a user being unable to set a custom search engine as a persistent default. Again, one can either take such assertions at face value, else somebody is lying. My approach to life is to regard people as truthful unless clearly caught in lying.

  • Originally posted by Frenzie:

    ...

    Originally posted by blackbird71:

    I have no reason to believe they aren't truthful, though I may not always like some of their design choices.

    No reason at all?
    ...
    http://my.opera.com/ODIN/blog/300-million-users-and-move-to-webkit]

    Originally posted by Bruce Lawson:

    Of course, a browser is much more than just a renderer and a JS engine, so this is primarily an "under the hood" change.

    You or I may disagree with Opera that the changes to New Opera constitute "under the hood changes", but in my estimation, that rests in the area of interpretation or exaggeration within 'analagous terminology', rather than outright lying since there is no clear, universally-agreed-upon definition of "under the hood" and how far any of its implications may reach. My personal belief is that a lot of slack exists in adjectives and descriptive phrasing, though someone consistently misusing such terminology is cause for incurring my displeasure as possibly being deceptive. But when somebody tells me "this is why I did thus and so", then they either are telling me at least partial truth (there may be other unstated reasons) or are lying. As I said earlier, YMMV in how you look at all this... but I accept what a person says as truth until, in my estimation, they have been proven to be lying.

  • Originally posted by blackbird71:

    The developers have clearly stated that: an "issue" exists where the search bar's default engine could be overridden by third-party apps.

    One could also write a third-party app that wipes your HD 😉

  • Originally posted by blackbird71:

    But when somebody tells me "this is why I did thus and so", then they either are telling me at least partial truth (there may be other unstated reasons) or are lying.

    Telling the partial truth is more commonly called lying by omission.

    Originally posted by blackbird71:

    As I said earlier, YMMV in how you look at all this... but I accept what a person says as truth until, in my estimation, they have been proven to be lying (emphasis added).

    That's the crux of the matter, isn't it? Yes, I quite agree. And Opera's PR was quite clearly unsatisfactory in just that part of my message you opted to omit.

  • Originally posted by Krake:

    Originally posted by blackbird71:

    The developers have clearly stated that: an "issue" exists where the search bar's default engine could be overridden by third-party apps.

    One could also write a third-party app that wipes your HD 😉

    How does the possibility that other attack forms and avenues might conceivably exist somewhere out in the digital universe relate to developers repairing the particular browser weakness that they actually discovered, and providing their explanation of why they did it?

  • Originally posted by blackbird71:

    How does the possibility that other attack forms and avenues might conceivably exist somewhere out in the digital universe relate to developers repairing the particular browser weakness that they actually discovered, and providing their explanation of why they did it?

    Because like I said, if a third-party app has that kind of access to my system, some stupid search engines are about the least of my worries.

Locked