Google annoys Opera users who won't switch to Chrome

This is how monopolies work. If you use Opera to create or edit posts on Google's Blogger network, you'll see a nagging message. And you'll keep seeing those nags until you switch to Chrome.
Written by Ed Bott, Senior Contributing Editor

Last week Google supposedly offered an olive branch to EU antitrust authorities who are investigating the world's largest online advertising company for its anticompetitive practices.

They better cut phone lines between Norway and Brussels, because you can bet that the makers of Opera are on the phone to EU authorities over a recent move by Google.

If you use the Opera browser (proudly made in Norway) to create or edit a post on Google's Blogger service, here's what you see:


This is new behavior, first noted by Bob Leggitt, who says it began occurring on June 27.

I downloaded the Opera browser and dusted off my old, rarely used Blogger account to confirm that this behavior is indeed occurring.

And you cannot make those nagging messages go away. Any visit to a page in the Blogger content-editing interface results in this nag screen, and although you can dismiss the message, it will keep coming back until you finally decide that the headache isn't worth it and click the "try Google Chrome" link that Google has helpfully provided for you.

This is how monopolies work. Google's competitive position in online advertising is so impenetrable that Microsoft was forced earlier this week to take a $6.2-billion write-off as an acknowledgment that its $6-billion acquisition of Aquantive in 2007 had failed to make a dent in AdWords, DoubleClick, and other Google-owned advertising networks.

Opera has negligible market share in desktop computing, tallying only 1.6% and 1.77% in the latest numbers from Net Market Share and StatCounter, respectively.

But it's a mark of pure arrogance from a company that isn't afraid to act like Microsoft (1998) when it needs to muscle out a competitor.

The Google roadblock for Opera is crude. If you change the User-Agent string for Opera so that it identifies itself as Google Chrome, the Blogger editing and management screens work perfectly.

Consider it a shot across the bow. If Google can muscle out Opera, its next target will probably be Firefox, which signed a lucrative search deal with Google last December that gave it a three-year lease on life but ceded absolute control of Mozilla's future to Google.

It's hard to imagine that this action won't raise some eyebrows among EU antitrust authorities.

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