Jon von Tetzchner, Opera's founder and former CEO spoke to The Register

  • Hi,

    Jon von Tetzchner, Opera's founder and former CEO spoke to The Register:

    http://bit.ly/1f2NYue

    What do you think?

  • Originally posted by cdysthe:

    Jon von Tetzchner, Opera's founder and former CEO spoke to The Register:
    What do you think?

    He may very well be right about Opera taking a new direction after he left:

    "The company changed focus quite dramatically after I quit. It invested much more into AdMarvel, and buying other companies in the ad space, and also the purchase of SkyFire. The company has been behaving more like an investment company," he said.

    That seems to agree with Opera's recent emphasis on profits:

    - cutting costs by adopting Blink instead of Presto, drastically reducing their development staff, and closing support sites like my.opera.com

    - adding Discover to Opera 15+, a hard-wired news portal based on revenue-sharing agreements with news publishers.

    Perhaps the desktop browser may be abandoned altogether in the future, given it's low market share, and lack of enthusiasm among the user base for Opera Blink? As Tetzchner writes, the company's has shifted its focus considerably since he left, away from software development for PCs.

    I also think that it will only be a matter of time until this thread is discovered by the usual suspects, and subject to their self-righteous tongue-lashings…

    But as all will end in March anyway, why not call a spade a spade while we still can?

  • Here we go again...

    Originally posted by Sawo:

    - cutting costs by adopting Blink instead of Presto, drastically reducing their development staff, and closing support sites like my.opera.com

    1. My Opera *social* website features are closing but the forums (support) will continue.
    2. "Just to put an end to these rumors once and for all: The same people are still working on the desktop browser. Some of us have been here for more than 10 years. The difference, perhaps, is that we have more people now than we used to. That's how we can do proper integration on all platforms. We actually have the resources to do a properly integrated user interface now.

    Of course, people come and go. There were several rounds of layoffs under Jon as well. That's life when you need to make money to stay in business.

    I know that certain former employees have been spreading false rumors, helped by false information in the media, but it is perhaps time to listen to those who actually know what's going on." - Haavard from Opera Software.

    It amazes me how many times I have to post that quote.

    Originally posted by Sawo:

    - adding Discover to Opera 15+, a hard-wired news portal based on revenue-sharing agreements with news publishers.

    Can you give me a source? Because all that I recall is a comment from Bruce Lawson from Opera (that I can't find right now) saying that he was asked to point some site(s) to be add as news sources to Discover, in which he even pointed out he doesn't read some sites he recommended but thought it was interesting for users to get. How could him be asked to suggest content to be added if this would hypothetically involve money?
    Look here, no mention of Discover: http://www.operasoftware.com/content-partners

    I know it's weird because of course it could be monetized, but there are no sources to back that for some reason. You can only find wild guesses from angry whiners.

    Originally posted by Sawo:

    As Tetzchner writes, the company's has shifted its focus considerably since he left, away from software development for PCs.

    Are Opera 15, 16, 17, 18, 19 and 20 illusions?

  • Let's reply to Tetzchner interview...

    "You need to have something unique and different - and Opera had that. It had all those deals on TVs and embedded. (...)"
    They still have it and make new ones, just look at their news posted at opera.com. And no that didn't make the user growth skyrocket.

    "When I quit we had 60m desktop users and were on a nice growth path. We'd have blown through 100m by this time if we'd improved on the browser. Now it's down to 50m and most people are still on [the Presto-based] Opera 12."
    He seem to have forgot to check that the users loss all happened in the Presto era. There's a downfall since around Opera 11 or 12 and since Blink Opera appeared the downfall has not been as big as before. In the latest quarter they lost only 1 million users, that's compared to a lot more: kind of about 5 million in every previous quarters.

    Day 11 of this month the Q4 2013 financial report will be released with the newest number of desktop users so we will be able to talk more about that later...

    Chromium extensions support would not fix website compatibility issues.

    The rest is about Vivaldi...

  • Rafael, don't confuse them with facts. They love to dwell in La-La Land. :p

  • leushino ... who is "them"? With all due respect, your entire comment is rude and sarcastic.

    I also am not happy with the direction Opera has taken.

    If there is no working bookmarks sidebar manager within a few months, then I will reluctantly switch to Firefox permanently.

  • 1. You can only find wild guesses from angry whiners.

    2. Rafael, don't confuse them with facts. They love to dwell in La-La Land.

    Exactly as feared. Thank you for are making my point, though.

    Are Opera 15, 16, 17, 18, 19 and 20 illusions?

    Well, now that you mention it yourself, illusions may be playing a role here.

    To begin with: are reports like this all "false rumors"?

    A report shows that the Norwegian software maker has reduced a team of 100 Opera developers in its Core Technology division by more than 90 positions, many of which took severance packages before Christmas, and about 50-70 who took redundancy in January. Some of these employees have moved to other Opera departments, though it is unclear how many have stayed on in new roles. Of the 90-plus employees that have left Opera’s core team as a result of the switch to WebKit, about half were in developer roles, and the rest were in many other less technical roles.

    Opera’s last quarterly report showed the company’s reduction of staff from 931 to 840 employees, but didn’t refer to any specific details about the downsizing. Lars Boilesen, Opera CEO, later confirmed the cuts were linked to Opera’s switch to WebKit.

    But for the sake of the argument, let's assume you are right, and development staff has actually increased:
    in that case, the mountain labored and brought forth a mouse.

    For all the effort, user feedback in this and other forums has not been not exactly enthusiastic, has it?

    I know it's weird because of course it could be monetized, but there are no sources to back that for some reason.

    Weird indeed. Perhaps a non-disclosure agreement was signed?
    There must be some reason for the design of this feature, with its total absence of choice. It can't be a lack of news portals on the web.

    You can only find wild guesses from angry whiners.

    Allow me to say that I am not angry, but sad:
    my beloved & intensely-customized browser of many years is being replaced with something that may shine on a smartphone, but is outclassed on the desktop by every conceivable competitor.

    Are Opera 15-20 illusions, you asked?
    That may well be, if the underlying assumption is that the world really needs another Chrome derivative:
    especially one that is feature-poor and boasts "innovations" from well-familiar to dubious.

    I know, I know - "if you don't like it, don't use it!". But who exactly is supposed to use it?

  • Earlier Jon Stephenson von Tetzchner answered a questions:

    «The reason for dropping Presto was indeed funding. The current management did not want to do the necessary investments to ensure that Presto stays ahead of the game. The interest has been more in mobile ads and the operator business and in fact Opera has invested heavily there, buying multiple companies at serious premiums».

    «I do not know if killing Presto means killing Opera. I think it was wrong to do, though, and I think Opera would have had more users if the company had continued to invest in its products. I also think that the current product direction is wrong, independent of kernel. We built a great product, focusing on the user, with really useful features. Now that has changed».

    Perhaps the desktop browser may be abandoned altogether in the future, given it's low market share, and lack of enthusiasm among the user base for Opera Blink?

    In fact, the desktop browser is already abandoned. Opera 15+ has nothing to do with a web-browser since it's Chromium's shell with a insignificant labor and financial spendings appropriated to develop and support it.
    And the latest Presto's minor security patches(released after the Presto's team dismissal) bring only new bugs/problems. That's because, probably, Opera software dismissed their quality control to minimize development costs as much as it's possible.

  • Originally posted by Sawo:

    To begin with: are reports like this all "false rumors"?

    Yes. According to an Opera employee that is actually inside Opera, yes this is a false rumor. Welcome to sensationalist and source-less journalism.
    I'm here posting this link for the thousand time too, TheNextWeb reported much better and said that the ~90 people who left were not all developers: http://thenextweb.com/insider/2013/02/18/opera-sheds-almost-100-employees-after-switching-to-webkit/

    Originally posted by Sawo:

    For all the effort, user feedback in this and other forums has not been not exactly enthusiastic, has it?

    At the same time, the total number of users isn't decreasing as fast as before. :sherlock:

    There are a couple of threads created by one-time posters and recently created accounts with rants that don't cite a single feature that they miss. I don't think they should be taken into consideration (there's no way to know what these users miss). For others yes some have valid points, but still features take time to be developed and they're still integrating the Chromium engine stuff (extension APIs, etc) so the "solid foundation" (a term commonly used since the switch) is not even completely built yet. Remember that Opera-Presto took about a year between versions that included new features? And for obvious reasons we shouldn't expect IRC and M2 to come back for example. And priorities... So, many factors...

    Originally posted by Sawo:

    Weird indeed. Perhaps a non-disclosure agreement was signed?
    There must be some reason for the design of this feature, with its total absence of choice. It can't be a lack of news portals on the web.

    You create a new feature called Discover intending to monetize and instead of advertising it as crazy so content partners become interested to buy you put it under a NDA?? How that works? And hiding info about hypothetical Discover partners but keeping Speed Dial partnership open to public?
    The pieces don't fit. There's nothing to prove me that at the moment the Discover is monetized so I can't say it is.
    At the future it could change becoming open to partners and monetize and clearly I wouldn't care anyway as 1. you can ignore it completely, just don't use it and you can even disable preloading at the settings, and 2. if this helps them make more money to invest in making a better browser/web or make them happy I'm all for it, I'm getting the browser for free.

    Originally posted by Sawo:

    the underlying assumption is that the world really needs another Chrome derivative (...) who exactly is supposed to use it?

    Many people including me do.

  • Originally posted by STNG:

    "The reason for dropping Presto was indeed funding."

    Another quote I've shared countless times:
    "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." - Bruce Lawson from Opera Software.

    Originally posted by STNG:

    "The current management did not want to do the necessary investments to ensure that Presto stays ahead of the game. The interest has been more in mobile ads and the operator business and in fact Opera has invested heavily there, buying multiple companies at serious premiums."

    I see it differently. Instead of investing endlessly in Presto plus keep fighting and fighting with web compatibility (OTW, patches...) the management chose to do heavy investment in the switch to Chromium so that Opera stays ahead of the game in the long-term. And I see OperaMediaWorks as a different part of the company with different people behind it (they bought AdMarvel and other ad companies, well so the people running it must be the folks originally at AdMarvel/etc + the new staff in the US-based office), I mean they didn't necessarily steal people from the Desktop Team.

  • If opera wants to regain the people it's losing and attract new users, we should ask "what changed, what was lost?". While Jon von Tetzchner raises some important points, the problem was not about dropping presto for webkit, or removing the bookmarks or any of the other complaints on the forums. These are the symptoms, not the root cause.

    Opera was the true leader of the pack with a diehard following, myself included, because they were the leaders in innovation and thought. They truly understood how users wanted their browser to behave, and they gave it to us.

    I was an early paid user of opera because the browser was so way ahead of the rest. All the snazzy features we see in other browsers today were borrowed from opera. Tabbed browsing? We were first. Speed dial? Done that. RAM cache? We were the fastest. MDI interface? Got it. Sessions? We had it first. Mouse gestures? No one came close for years. Optimisation for small screens, and fit to window width? We were the king. Spatial nav and fast forward? Nothing came close. Amazing customisability? Others were struggling to catch up.

    I must ask, what happened to that innovative culture? Without innovation, a product will die sooner or later. While I appreciate Opera's recent efforts, there does not appear to have been any innovation for years now.

    I sit here typing this comment out on chrome, while I fire up every new release of opera stable and next, to check out if there's something good, worth going back to. I hope I am pleasantly surprised one day. It's like a very old and close friend I can't discard, it would be simply too painful.

  • Sometimes innovation is achieved by simplicity. Finding the right spot to include a button, figuring out how things should look and behave to match user expectations (so he/she won't actually need heavy customization) and to build a concise non-redundant/bloated interface, etc, are valuable characteristics.

    Originally posted by kraterz:

    there does not appear to have been any innovation for years now.

    Do you see any in the competition?

    Originally posted by kraterz:

    I sit here typing this comment out on chrome.

    May I ask you for how much time are you using it as your browser of choice?

  • Originally posted by rafaelluik:

    It amazes me how many times I have to post that quote.

    Dear Rafael, feel free to post that or any other quote as many times you wish :)
    It won't change facts.

    Mar. 23, 2010

    Opera, The Last Of The Standalone Browser-Makers, Evolves Into A Mobile Ad Network

    Opera has a very tiny market share in desktop browsers, but it is actually a profitable company, traded on the Oslo Stock Exchange. Its desktop browser is free but it makes money by licensing mobile versions of its browser for phone makers.

    This business will soon be toast, however, as the market switches from so-called "feature phones" with specific browsers that makers will pay licenses for, to smartphones whose OSes come with their own browsers, such as the iPhone.

    Opera is basically the only standalone browser maker that's left, which is saying something given that they've been around since 1995.

    As for now (2013<) Opera ceased to be a standalone browser maker. Period.

    Calling Opera ASA now a "browser maker" is already a little bit of stretch.

    However, good luck with the new shell for Google's rendering engines ("Opera can build on top of it...").

  • Originally posted by rafaelluik:

    ...a couple of threads created by one-time posters and recently created accounts with rants that don't cite a single feature that they miss...

    Though I usually ignore you as one of leushino's clones, this one I could not pass by.
    I miss lots of features. The "fit to width" is number one among them.
    Mouse and rocker gestures, content blocking, per-site settings, MDI, lightness on resources, customisability - just to name a few.

    All that was dumped.

    Regarding an innovation in competitors - there never was one, they simply borrowed - after many years in Opera - several features, without much care for their users.

    Now I experiment with the PaleMoon - which I find hardly a replacement for Opera proper, and I more and more use IEv8, which I trust MUCH more than any google-related bloatware.

  • Originally posted by Krake:

    ...As for now (2013<) Opera ceased to be a standalone browser maker. Period.

    Calling Opera ASA now a "browser maker" is already a little bit of stretch.
    ...

    +1

  • Originally posted by rafaelluik:

    There are a couple of threads created by one-time posters and recently created accounts with rants that don't cite a single feature that they miss.

    Oh really.

    This forum, right?

    Let's make a quick tally based on topic titles.

    bookmarks
    bookmarks
    skins/appearance
    bookmarks
    bookmarks
    Link
    "disgruntled" -> non-descriptive title, but the content clearly says RSS, bookmarks, mail
    Linux
    bookmarks
    Menu bar
    That was just within the first twenty topics or so, and the others didn't relate to missing features (unless you count YouTube in HD as a missing feature). Feel free to continue the exercise by yourself.

    Not a single feature mentioned. :)

  • Originally posted by Krake:

    As for now (2013<) Opera ceased to be a standalone browser maker. Period.

    Calling Opera ASA now a "browser maker" is already a little bit of stretch.

    So what? How does that change anything said in this topic? They bought a couple of ad companies which already had their own employees that must have continued working now for Opera, it doesn't seem like people from the Desktop Team moved exactly.

    It looks like a company must limit to act only in specific areas you "allow" to please you, what's the logic of this?

    Originally posted by krake:

    However, good luck with the new shell for Google's rendering engines ("Opera can build on top of it...").

    They can and do build under it too. You might be aware of Opera contributions to Chromium/Blink.

  • Originally posted by rafaelluik:

    It looks like a company must limit to act only in specific areas you "allow" to please you, what's the logic of this?

    No, he's saying Opera is now more like an aftermarket body kit maker than like a car manufacturer.* Ads are completely irrelevant to the point.

    * Krake, please correct me if I'm unfairly interpreting your position.

  • Originally posted by rafaelluik:

    Look here, no mention of Discover: http://www.operasoftware.com/content-partners

    The revenue would come from the providers's content being featured on Discover, which the user will access through those devices. That particular page doesn't have to mention Discover by name, just spark interest. Details on how the content will be presented to the user comes later.

    Originally posted by rafaelluik:

    Read about the differences between Opera 12 and 19 for computers here

    Nah, read about them here. Opera 12 has some opportunities for improvement. Opera 19 is a blight upon the land.

  • So... at the end of this day, at the end of this thread, at the end of the Opera Community - nothing Opera has decided to do will have been changed, in spite of all the electrons being temporarily inconvenienced by the rendering of all the rhetoric, arguments, and opinion in these posts. Dissatisfied Old Opera users will still be dissatisfied, Opera's developers will keep on developing New Opera per their schedules, plans, strategies, and devblog feedback, stockholders will still own the company, and otherwise life will go on much as it always has. :rolleyes:

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