Recently I discussed the imminent end to the browser wars, and predicted that iCab, OmniWeb and Opera will no longer be relevant even for web developers by the end of the year.
Now, Opera Software has all but announced that they can no longer compete on the Mac platform. They’ve effectively asked Apple to subsidize their business, and if Apple declines, Opera for Macintosh will likely be no more. Says Opera Software’s CEO Jon von Tetzchner:
I’m not a quitter, and our company isn’t a quitter, but it really is up to Apple. The Mac platform may not be viable for us any longer. We have contacted Apple and asked them if they want a third-party browser, and we’ll see what the answer is. They could say we want to use Opera as the core engine. If they want KHTML as a simple little browser, and also something more advanced, we would be happy to provide it. Obviously, if we don’t get any positive signs from Apple, then we have to think about it.
Apple’s response was predictable and (IMHO) reasonable.
We think Safari is one of the best and most innovative browsers in the world, and it seems our customers do too. No one is making Mac users choose Safari over Opera — they’re doing it of their own free will — and Opera’s trashing of Safari sounds like sour grapes to us.
Even if they no longer spend resources on Macintosh, Opera Software will find it more and more difficult to maintain a business on something that’s rapidly becoming a commodity. As analyst Ross Rubin put it, “Opera is between the rock of Microsoft and the hard space of open source.”