Opera, the world’s oldest surviving browser, is all set to launch a new content platform for the Indian audience in a bid to leverage its existing reach in the market. Sunil Kamath, Opera’s vice president for South Asia and South East Asia, says they already have signed up 25 partners in India for Opera Feeds, which is expected to launch soon.
“India is already our largest market as our OEM business is so strong,” says Kamath. The idea is to double the number of users in 24 months. Opera, originally founded in Norway, is now owned by a China-based consortium, which seems to have brought in a change in the way the company thinks and operates.
“In the earlier structure, we didn’t have the flexibility of investing in markets. Today, we are focusing on distribution and are hitting number one spot on Google Play frequently because we are investing heavily on acquisition. This is something the new Opera brings, to get more aggressive in markets like India. That is very exciting,” says Kamath, adding that the company is now able to couple a good product with the right amount of spends on distribution. “This is key for a cluttered mobile market like India.”
Opera’s new owner, the Chinese Web Tycoon Zhou Yahui, believes in a clear strategy for Internet, that of “users first, experience next and monetisation follows”. This is how Opera operates from now on.
Kamath says Opera will now spend time on building more relevant content, focusing on getting the non-English speaking user on board. “We are studying what is important for him. The definition of Internet varies for person to person and we don’t have a silver bullet.”
Opera browser had a ‘Discover’ tab for long, which let users find relevant content from multiple sources. The company is now building on this for its new offering with a mix of curated and algorithm-based feeds. “We will have a team working on a curated push and based on what has been consumed this will initiate the algorithm, making it smarter as time goes.” The new product will have some new features like API-driven feeds from video on demand partners and YouTube.
“We will do everything to grow our user base 2x in the next 24 months. We will be partnering with anyone and everyone relevant to the ecosystem. We know we have a strong influence on what people consume and will go deep to reach out to local partners,” says Kamath, underlining the roadmap for the coming months. He says the focus will be clearly on increasing the overall pie of users, rather than trying to poach from other products.
Incidentally, rival UC Browser has made considerable investments and inroads in the Indian mobile content scenario in the past few months with its US News product. In fact, UCWeb, which is part of Alibaba Mobile Business Group, has announced that it will invest Rs 2 billion in India and Indonesia over the next couple of years to “tap the huge potential of user-generated content”.
“I am not interested in a market share fight with someone, that is a futile exercise. I am going to look at how to get the next users in and how I can help the ecosystem working with carriers, OEMs and players like Amazon. It is going to be a bit of an education process,” underlines Kamath.
He says Opera’s strength is brand, good quality users and distribution and they will want to get partners who will leverage the browser’s reach.
Opera Coast is dead
Opera’s focus will now be on Android and iOS-only products like Coast are unlikely in the future. Kamath says even further development on such products will come to a standstill now. “We will not kill any existing product, but don’t expect new offerings in the iOS space.”