Opera banking on word of mouth for growth in Africa


Once, it was bigger than Apple’s Safari browser. But Opera has seen its marketshare decline to somewhere around 1.5% globally over recent years. It’s still big in Africa, though. According to the latest estimates from StatCounter on browser usage, Opera – which was long the de facto browser on mobile phones – is still used in more than half of all web sessions in some sub-Saharan countries.

Richard Monday, Vice President for Africa at Opera Software has revealed the company is not planning to embark on massive marketing campaigns to drive growth and sustain its position in Africa. Instead, he said that he is more interested in ensuring that its current users continue to recommend the browser to others – especially those searching for a more cost effective way of surfing the internet on their mobile devices.

Places where Opera has majority market share, via StatCounter.

Places where Opera has majority market share are marked in red, via StatCounter.

In a chat with htxt.africa in Lagos, Nigeria, he said the company will continue to rely on word of mouth and its experience in optimising downloads using caching and compression to save low income users money.

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“If you are using the internet for the first time and you don’t have much money, you will ask your friends for the fastest browser. They will say to you ‘If you don’t have much money you should use Opera because it compresses all the data and for every 10MB you download you only pay for one. And it’s quick. You will agree with them that it’s the right one for you’,” Monday said.

He added that the company grew quickly this way, especially by offering value for money for customers because at the end of the day the customer is the most important person.

“The thing that they want is a good user experience – even when the network is not good,” he said.

He also revealed the company will soon introduce a video-playing feature in its Opera Mini browser for mobile.

“Video will soon be introduced. It’s being tested by an operator at the moment for Opera Mini. Within Opera Max it’s already available,” said Monday, “You can download it and it would add up to 15% to your data plan. Because what it does is it compresses not just the browsing, it compresses every app on your phone. It’s really clever.”

Concerning the company’s apps store, he said it has grown to become the third largest in the world.

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“Opera owns the world’s third largest apps store and anyone can put their app on the Opera Apps Store for free,” he said.

He also explained why small companies cannot afford to advertise on Opera browser’s home page.

“To put an ad on Opera browser homepage in Nigeria across all operators will cost about $100 000 a month… Anything that is what worth paying for is expensive; anything that is good is expensive. You are talking about the ability to drive millions and millions of clicks. Every single time user opens a browser, it’s like a billboard. Every time you log on to the internet browser the logo is there.”

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