Of all the stories in the web world, the story of the Opera web browser is one of the most interesting, and least frequently told when it comes to understanding innovation.
They’re a fascinating story because in the early browser wars (’94-’00) they were the third horse, but they consistently took larger risks, made bigger bets on design changes, bet heaviest of all players on web standards, and were the first of the major browsers to implement now standard features like tab browsing. But they rarely got much credit for their innovations or their intensely progressive attitude then, or perhaps even now.
Why? Did they not innovative enough? or too much? Do they need to be in the U.S. to get more attention? Or are there other issues? There are tons of lessons to be learned from the case study of Opera, both for the 90’s and for the present.
Until someone writes one, you can do a small, fun one of your own.
If you’re interested in UX design or understanding innovation, I highly recommend giving their latest release a spin: it will be the most interesting software you’ve installed in some time.
- Here’s my older review of Opera 9.02
- My other posts about web browser design, including reviews of major browsers
- I’ll be speaking at Opera next month and look forward to learning more from these folks