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Opera goes free

Opera is giving its famous browser away free to users, choosing instead to carrying banner ads to recoup money.
Written by Ron Coates, Contributor

Opera is giving its famous browser away free to users, choosing instead to carrying banner ads to recoup money.

The fast and slim (1.7 Mb) browser has picked up 1.5 million users, mostly by word-of-mouth and last May, around one million users downloaded the $39 version 4.0, within the first two weeks of its release. Now it is to offer version 5.0 through ISPs, portals and as cover disks on magazines and hopes to make a dent in the AOL and Microsoft dominated browser market. Jon von Totzchner, CEO of Opera, said: "We think this will significantly increase our market share. ISPs and portals are in a big fight to gain customers and get revenue from them. We can make a difference." He said he could not yet announce any internet or advertising deals but that interest and agreements already concluded were evenly divided between the US and Europe. Opera has been described as the Porsche of browsers and the company thinks it will become more and more attractive as both AOL and Microsoft integrate their browsers with their net access. It has gained its reputation for its small size and resultant speed, as well as its advanced instant messaging and internet search facilities. Opera is currently available free as a download from opera.com. At the moment it does not contain any ads. When it does carry ads they will be downloaded only once a week and will be kept small according to von Totzchner.
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