Opera boss: “Google Chrome is good for the market”

Jon von Tetzchner, chief executive and co-founder of Opera Software

The arrival of another mouth to feed in the browser space would, you expect, be subject to some concern from rival software makers.

Not so in the case of Google Chrome, which has so far enjoyed a positive reception not only from the Mozilla Foundation, but also from Opera, the commercial multi-platform browser developer based in Norway.

Despite being the main developer offering a browser that isn't either bundled with an operating system or developed on a not-for-profit basis, Opera remains surprisingly positive about Google's entry into the browser war.

"Yes, Google Chrome is another player in the market, but it is a standards-based browser, which is a good thing for the community," Jon von Tetzchner, chief executive and co-founder of Opera Software, told IT PRO in an interview.

"There are around 1.4 billion internet users globally, almost all using browsers of one variety or another, so there is a sizeable market to operate in. A good market needs multiple players. Would we make do with just two different types of car for example?"

He added that the biggest problem is when a browser starts implementing proprietary technology, as Microsoft did with past versions of Internet Explorer.

"The market for web applications is growing, and to ensure compatibility and portability, you need to adhere to standards, which Google appears to be doing," Tetzchner said.

Asked whether he thought the timing of the Chrome announcement was a spoiler to deflect attention away from Microsoft's beta release of IE8, Tetzchner added: "I think Google has been working on this for a while now. Whether the actual release date was affected by the IE8 announcement is unclear, though I admit the timing is interesting."

Opera has maintained a paid-for and advertising-supported version of its browser for several years, before making all its browsers free, focusing on premium support, developing embedded versions and providing business solutions for its revenue stream.

"The browser is an enabling technology rather than a direct revenue-generating one. Microsoft released IE as a free browser, then put up the price of Windows. We work with partners, including Google, to create value," Tetzchner said.