Opera Software: 10 Axelsson: 31

There is something bombastic about round numbers. Opera Software just celebrated 10, a long time in Internet years. Half that time I have been working here, while Opera in turn has been around almost half my Internet life, which has been close to half the fifty-sixty years lifetime I expect the Internet to have as a project. It will garner as much interest to speak about the Net in the 2020s as it would be to speak of electricity today.

A decade ago Opera was this ridiculously obscure Telenor based browser that no sane observer, myself included, would give a fighting chance to survive a the decade, let alone come into the position we are in today.

When I started five years ago Opera was in transition. Like today Opera was growing fast. In 2000 we quadrupled in size, compared to a doubling in 2005. The goals were to turn Opera into a truly platform-independent product and complete the Opera 4 (codenamed Elektra) migration. While the offices were stacked with an amazing array of multicultural machines and gadgets, they still are, in truth the Opera versions were largely Windows ports and remained so until Opera 7. We were committed to CSS and flexible design at the time the dinosaurs ruled the web.

But the excitement was around a shh! product we were to make for this large to-be-unnamed company in Finland. While the Communicator 9210i was a minor product by today’s standards, it was the harbinger of phones to come. And then the lean years came.

The bubble of temporal insanity had to burst. While it didn’t affect us directly our customers found themselves short of money, and projects started to disappear. We rode this out, expecting them to return eventually as they did, thanks to our users buying Opera licences. The turnaround happened not long after Opera 7. We got more customers, many more users, and IE started to look vulnerable.

There is no guarantee there will be an Opera Software ten years from now. But we are in a vastly better placed to make a difference than ten years ago. The spunk, the skill, and the ideas are there as before but now we have more just a handful of people to take advantage of them. Five years from now we will know how well we did succeed.


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