Opera buys FastMail for cross-platform messaging

Norwegian browser company acquires Australian web-mail provider to enable the delivery of a consistent email service across multiple platforms
Written by David Meyer, Contributor

Opera has bought the web-mail provider FastMail to boost its cross-platform messaging capabilities, the Norwegian browser maker said on Friday.

The acquisition of Australia-based FastMail will enable Opera to deliver messaging for computers, mobile phones, TVs and gaming consoles, said the company. Opera's strategy chief Rolf Assev told ZDNet UK on Friday that the move was targeted at emerging markets, as well as operator tie-ins in all markets.

FastMail told its customers on an FAQ page that service would continue, as long as they agreed to have their account and personal data controlled by Opera.

"Opera will take over the running of FastMail.fm including all existing accounts, so things will just run as they do now with the same billing cycle, pricing, features, reliability, security, etc," the FastMail team wrote. "Relax: everything is going to continue just fine."

The FastMail team added they believed the takeover would "create a significantly better FastMail for customers in the future".

Opera has provided an email client in its desktop browser for the last decade. However, the company now has more users of its Mini mobile browser — 55 million as opposed to 50 million desktop users — and the FastMail acquisition will let Opera "offer a consistent email experience across all products", the company said.

Opera Mini is available on a variety of smartphone platforms, including the iPhone, Android, Windows Mobile, BlackBerry and Symbian Series 60.

"Many Opera users, especially on Opera Mini, are starting to use the internet for the first time through their mobile phone," Assev told ZDNet UK. "It's their first opportunity to establish an email address. We want to offer those users their first data on the mobile phone and their first email address."

Assev added that "operators also have new people signing up for the internet", and those carriers would want to "get control" of the new email addresses established by their customers.

Asked whether Opera users would be able to run any email address through their browser, or if they would be limited to an Opera or FastMail address, Assev said this choice had not yet been decided upon. He said, however, that Opera intended to be "as user-friendly as possible".

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