Although never as popular as the ‘big boys’ (Google Chrome, Apple Safari, Mozilla Firefox, ect.), with over 350 million users worldwide Opera still a very popular browser, especially in developing markets where its lightweight but powerful mobile versions, and innovative use of data compression to speed up page loads and minimize bandwidth consumption (this can be up to 80 percent, but secure HTTPS pages are not compressed), are highly valued.
‘More and more internet users are starting to question whether they can trust the internet these days, and are actively looking for secure solutions for their phone or computer. Privacy and security has always been top of mind for Opera`s users, making the acquisition of SurfEasy a seamless fit. Opera has evolved beyond our browser roots and this step will add a critical building block towards a broader portfolio of applications.’
Opera will currently continue to run the SurfEasy VPN service as is (a free service is available with 500MB per month data limit, with premium services at the lower end of the VPN price spectrum), but the ultimate plan is to incorporate its VPN functionality into Opera’s own browser products, although Opera Software will not be drawn into a timeframe for this,
‘Right now, we are not speculating on the timing of future releases or what form they will take, but we are looking forward to integrating these into joint products that will expand Opera’s product portfolio.’
Although Opera Software has staked out it’s a commitment to protecting users’ privacy in its Privacy Statement, some observers have expressed concern that in addition to the browser (which uses some open source code, but is largely proprietary) the company runs Opera Mediaworks, a mobile advertising and content distribution platform whose raison d’être would seem to be in direct opposition to any notions of privacy.
Regardless, we will be keeping a beady eye on what Opera Software does with its new acquisition, as innovation here may lead to wider changes with regards to privacy throughout the industry.
UPDATE: You can now read the full in-depth review of Opera’s VPN.