(By Mani) Facebook Inc.
) is said to be considering a $1 billion bid for Norway-based browser maker Opera software in an attempt to unveil its own browser, as well as monetize its mobile offering, according to posts on several technology blogs.
Shares of the Norway-based Opera, which makes browsers for mobile phones, tablets, desktop computers, surged almost 26 percent in Oslo on Tuesday.
California-based Facebook has been criticized for not finding a way to monetize its surging user base on tablets and smartphones especially given the exponential rate of growth in mobile usage over personal computers for the foreseeable future. The deal might enable Facebook to launch its own smartphone or expand its services that are now available on mobile phones.
Some Wall Street analysts are of the view that Opera would be such a perfect fit for Facebook and would allow the social networking giant to compete with Google Inc.'s (NASDAQ:GOOG) Chrome, Microsoft Corp.'s (NASDAQ:MSFT) Internet Explorer and also Yahoo Inc. (NASDAQ: YHOO), which recently launched the Axis browser.
Opera is a good browser, and most of its traction comes from feature phones. Opera has very good technology, which reduces bandwidth usage. Hence Opera makes web browsing from mobile devices cheap, especially in situations where the user does not have unlimited data plans.
However, Facebook's mobile problems are not going to be fixed by buying a mobile browser company, as a matter of fact it is totally irrelevant from the company's perspective, as Opera will narrow Facebook's ecosystem and not broaden it, which it desperately needs right now.
"In Mobile, FB needs a solution that expands its ecosystem, both from developer perspective as well as from distribution perspective and this can only happen by innovation and not by acquisition of Opera," Global Equities Research analyst Trip Chowdhry wrote in a note to clients.
Opera started out in 1994 as a research project within Telenor, Norway's leading telecom. Opera web browsers are adapted to a wide range of platforms, operating systems and embedded Internet products — including Mac, PC and Linux computers, tablets, mobile phones as well as various game consoles and other devices.
Opera browser is one of the world's leading browsers and the Opera Mini browser lets the user access the Web on even the simplest handsets, with small screens and limited memory. This has made the Opera Mini browser the world's most popular mobile browser.