Opera is a cross-platform web browser and Internet suite which handles common Internet-related tasks including visiting web sites, sending and receiving e-mail messages, managing contacts, chatting online, viewing Widgets, downloading BitTorrents, and reading Newsfeeds. Opera's lightweight mobile web browser Opera Mini and most current versions of its desktop application are offered free of charge.
Opera is proprietary software developed by Opera Software based in Oslo, Norway. It runs on a variety of operating systems including many versions of Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, FreeBSD and Solaris. It is also used in mobile phones, smartphones, Personal Digital Assistants, game consoles and interactive televisions. Technology from Opera is also licensed by other companies for use in such products as Adobe Creative Suite.
Opera started out as a research project in Norway's largest telecom company, Telenor, in 1994, and branched out into an independent development company named Opera Software ASA in 1995. Opera Software develops the Opera Web browser, a high-quality, multi-platform product for a wide range of platforms, operating systems and embedded Internet products.
Opera's vision is to deliver the best Internet experience on any device. Opera's key business objective is to earn global leadership in the market for PC/desktops and embedded products. Opera's main business strategy is to provide a browser that operates across devices, platforms and operating systems, and can deliver a faster, more stable and flexible Internet experience than its competitors.
As of October 2006, usage data gives Opera's overall global share of the browser market as being between 0.5% and 1.0%, although Opera's usage share is over 12% in Ukraine, over 9% in Russia, and over 6% in Poland and Lithuania.
Since its first release in 1996, the browser has had limited success on desktop computers in the face of competitors including Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari, and Netscape. Opera Software has had more success in the area of mobile browsing, with product releases for a variety of platforms. There is not currently any substantial data on mobile browsing statistics (perhaps due to the tiny proportion of browsing that occurs on equipment other than desktop or laptop computers). Opera's availability on many platforms has given users access to a highly functional browser where this choice did not previously exist.
A number of Linux distributions, such as SuSE and MCNLive, distribute Opera.
Available for Nintendo DS and Nintendo DS Lite is an Opera version that comes on a regular DS game card, but with an additional Nintendo DS Option Pak cartridge for extra memory that can be plugged into the DS's 2nd port. This will allow the Nintendo DS to access the World Wide Web. A version of the Opera Browser is available for the Wii via the Internet Channel. The Internet Channel was offered as a free download from the Wii Shop Channel until June 2007 since its April 2007 release. Now it is available for download for 500 Wii Points. The browser can be stored on the Wii internal flash memory.
Ubuntu is cooperating with their 6.x versions so Ubuntu users can easily download Opera 9. Gentoo allows users to download and install Opera using the Portage package management system.