Opera May Pull Out Of Mac Market In The Face Of Free Safari From Apple

ZDNet is reporting that Opera may pull out of the Mac market. Opera makes the multi-platform commercial Web browser of the same name. Fans of the product have touted Operais speed and rich feature set, which have allowed the company to charge money for a Web browser in a market dominated by free browsers from both Microsoft and AOLis Netscape division.

According to ZDNet, free competition from Apple itself may force the company to pull out of the Mac market. Apple released its own Apple-branded browser called Safari earlier this month at MWSF 2003. The company based Safari on the open source KHTML rendering engine, and the browser has been a big hit with customers so far. In reaction, Opera has asked Apple to consider licensing Opera in place of the KHTML engine for Safari, an offer Apple is not likely to consider. From ZDNet:

"Iim not a quitter, and our company isnit a quitter, but it really is up to Apple," said Jon von Tetzchner, chief executive of privately held Opera. "The Mac platform may not be viable for us any longer."

Specifically, Tetzchner said that he had asked Apple whether it would be willing to license Opera either to replace KHTML, or to supplement the current Safari version, which Apple said is a stripped-down affair with a minimalist interface and limited feature set.

"We have contacted Apple and asked them if they want a third-party browser, and weill see what the answer is," Tetzchner said. "They could say we want to use Opera as the core engine. If they want KHTML as a simple little browser, and also something more advanced, we would be happy to provide it. Obviously, if we donit get any positive signs from Apple, then we have to think about it."

An Apple spokesman said, "We think Safari is one of the best and most innovative browsers in the world, and it seems our customers do too," the Mac maker said in a statement. "No one is making Mac users choose Safari over Opera--theyire doing it of their own free will--and Operais trashing of Safari sounds like sour grapes to us." Analysts gave Opera slim chances of success with this line of defense.


"Itis not a platform where weive earned a lot of money," said Tetzchner. "Itis a business decision. We have been putting a lot of resources into the Apple version and think we have a much better product, but itis still a question whether itis worth it."

Tetzchner said Opera engineers had been redoubling their efforts on the Mac version in an effort to catch up to Operais version for Windows. He said the company would make a decision on the fate of Opera for the Mac "in the next couple of months."

There is more information in the full article.