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January 18, 2007

Firefox's Blake Ross Talks About Opera

Opera Watch has an interview with Blake Ross, Mozilla Firefox's co-founder, who talks about Firefox, Opera and the in-between space. Unlike many other people, he thinks that Opera and Firefox are complementary and a "war" between its users is pointless.

>> Which Opera feature (if any) would you like to see in Firefox?

<< I'd love to be able to tear off a tab into its own window.

>> In your mind would the Opera browser benefit from being Open Source? And if so, how would you convince Opera Software to make their browser Open Source?

<< Yes, I do think Opera would enjoy the benefits of an open-source community, such as fresh developer blood, greater testing assistance and voluntary localization. As for convincing the company to make the move... now that Opera is free, I would hope the internal debate is over why not to open source the browser. I recognize that Opera has already earned a vibrant community, but I think it could expand it even further. I don't see what the company has to lose.

<< Blake, how would you describe the differences between Opera and Firefox? When would someone prefer Firefox? When would someone prefer Opera?

>> I think Opera is better geared toward advanced users out of the box, whereas Firefox is tailored to mainstream users by default and relies on its extension model to cater to an advanced audience. However, I see both browsers naturally drifting toward the middle. Firefox is growing more advanced as the mainstream becomes Web-savvier, and I see Opera scaling back its interface, since it started from the other end of the spectrum.

While Firefox's user base continues to grow (Internet Explorer 7 may be one reason for that), Opera is strong only in the mobile market. The lack of an add-on platform (you can't develop toolbars), the unfamiliar interface and the all-in-one philosophy might be responsible for Opera's small market share.

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