Let’s preface this with the disclaimer that this is a super-duper rumor but the folks over at Pocket-Lint are saying that Facebook is looking to buy Opera Software and we’d bet mobile would be a big motivator.
Opera has been in an interesting transition over the last few years, as it wants to be more than just a browser maker and dip into the targeted advertising space. With its more than 200 million users across all platforms, it is sitting on a ton of data.
The recently-public Facebook is sitting on a ton of cash and knows that mobile is a point of concern moving forward because it hasn’t properly monetized these smaller screens. The report suggests that buying Opera would allow the social network to create its own mobile browser and that could open up a host of new revenue options.
What kind of options? It’s all about the data. Remember, Opera works by processing your Internet requests on the server side and delivering to phones, so it knows a lot about its users. This is also a very nice way to conserve bandwidth on the go, which could also be important for Facebook as it gains more traction in emerging markets.
It’s still an odd fit though because even with Opera products on iOS, Apple will never let it become the default browser, especially if it’s owned by Facebook. It may be a different story for Android handset makers though and Android is definitely the leader worldwide.
We haven’t heard anything from Facebook or Opera on this and we’re still going to throw this in the rumor category until we get something more concrete. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Facebook buying more mobile companies in the not-too-distant future, though.
Update: Opera gave us the standard no-comment. “As a standard policy Opera does not respond to market rumours and we have no comment to the rumour addressed in the question.”