Opera takes leading role in Microsoft feature-phone browser development

Opera's CEO said a licensing deal with Microsoft effectively means the Norwegian software company is taking over browser building for low- and mid-tier Nokia mobile phones.

Opera CEO Lars Boilesen

Opera CEO Lars Boilesen

Lars Boilesen said the agreement with Microsoft sees Opera assume control of developing browsers for the U.S. company's Nokia feature phones and Asha devices and would be profitable for his company from the beginning, Reuters reported.

An Opera statement explains that the licensing deal sees its Mini browser become the default browser on new Nokia phones running the Series 30, Series 40 and Asha software platforms. The company also plans to encourage existing users to upgrade from the legacy Microsoft Xpress browser.

Boilesen said the Microsoft deal could open the door to millions of new users in Opera's core markets, where "massive numbers of people" have yet to switch from feature phones to smartphones.

Opera expanded its mobile consumer base 8 per cent year-on-year in the second quarter of 2014, to 270.8 million, it revealed in an earnings statement released separately. At the end of Q2 2014, 103.9 million of its mobile customers used Android smartphones, which represented a 74 per cent increase.

The Microsoft deal could help Opera extend its reach beyond the two leading smartphone platforms and address falling mobile consumer revenues in the second quarter of 2014. The company launched a version of its Mini browser for Apple's iPhone in the period, but that software came too late to address a 21 per cent year-on-year decline in consumer revenues.

Opera reported that net income grew from $6.1 million (€4.5 million) in the second quarter of 2013 to $9.5 million in the second quarter of 2014 and that earnings before interest depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) grew from $21.7 million in Q2 2013 to $27 million in Q2 2014.

The company forecast adjusted Q3 EBITDA in the range of $31 million to $34 million and a full-year figure in the range of $117 million to $124 million.

For more:
- see this Opera press release
- read Reuters' report
- view Opera's earnings statement

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