Big changes are afoot at Opera – the alternative Internet browser software developer – as the Norwegian company announced its “fastest acceleration in user growth” in recent times to 300 million monthly users, and the beginning of a transition to the WebKit layout engine.
Opera develops a range of Internet browsers across desktop, tablet, TV, and mobile, and today announced that it had reached the 300 million monthly milestone – no mean feat in today’s highly competitive browser market.
Most of this growth stems from mobile where Opera is ranked third highest behind the default Android browser and mobile Safari on iOS, according to StatCounter. As Opera CEO Lars Boilesen describes, mobile is something that the company intends to concentrate on going forward; “we are shifting into the next gear to claim a bigger piece of the pie in the smartphone market.”
Opera also announced that it will make a gradual transition to the open-source WebKit rendering engine this year, as well as the open-source Chromium Web browser. WebKit powers Apple Safari and Google Chrome browsers, amongst others, and is well-known for its standards compliance and performance. Google Chrome is derived from the Chromium project, to which Google has added some extra functionality and features (if that makes sense?).
By halting development on its own rendering engine and contributing, along with other browser experts, to said open-source projects, Opera’s CTO, Håkon Wium Lie, hopes that more resources “can be dedicated to developing new features and the user-friendly solutions that can be expected from a company that invented so many of the features that are today being used by everyone in the browser industry.”
Opera has already submitted its first set of patches to the WebKit and Chromium projects. Opera has a new Android Web browser in the works, which its will demonstrate later this month at Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona.