Facebook eyes Opera PDF Print E-mail

The social network is rumoured to be considering a possible acquisition of the desktop, tablet and mobile browser maker.

After raising $16 billion from its IPO, Facebook seems to be looking for ways to spend it, as various acquisition rumours do the rounds – including the potential buyouts of Opera Software and facial recognition technology start-up, Face.com.

First noted in a report by Pocket-lint, Facebook is looking into acquiring the company behind the Opera browser, Opera Software. The Norwegian company is said to have put a freeze on all hires, and The Next Web reports a source at Opera says the company is in talks with potential buyers.

Opera Software currently has a desktop, tablet and mobile browser. Opera has only a fraction of the desktop browser market, with an estimated 2% market share. However, the company`s mobile browser, Opera Mini, has a much larger footprint. Net Market Share places Opera Mini`s market share at roughly 12% of the market (following behind Safari and Android). However, another browser tracker, StatCounter, places Opera Mini at the top with 20.52% of the market worldwide.

According to Opera`s own statistics, in March 2012 Opera Mini had 168.8 million users – a 64% increase year-on-year. Across all of its browsers, Opera says it has over 270 million users worldwide, and has a market cap of about $670 million. Opera has also been pushing its mobile browser and data compression technology heavily in emerging markets, with partnerships with cellphone manufacturers such as Mi-Fone in Africa.

While both Facebook and Opera refuse to comment on the rumours, it has been noted that the purchase of a mobile browser could make sense for the social network – especially as it seeks to improve its mobile offering. Over the weekend, it was reported that Facebook has already hired six ex-Apple iPhone software and hardware engineers to revive the company`s long rumoured efforts to build its own smartphone.

The desktop browser space is also becoming increasingly competitive as Google`s Chrome and Mozilla`s Firefox continue to eat away market share from Microsoft`s Internet Explorer. Yahoo has now also entered the fray with its own browser, Axis.

Browsers aside, Facebook is also reportedly looking at purchasing face recognition technology company Face.com. The news was initially reported by Israeli publication Calcalist. The same publication has accurately broken news of acquisitions of Israeli companies before – including Apple`s acquisition of Anobit.

Face.com technology is already used in the Photo Finder and Photo Tagger apps on Facebook. The social network is said to have looked into buying the start-up before, but an agreement could not be reached between the two parties.

Improved facial recognition technology would make sense for Facebook, as a cornerstone of the social network is photo-sharing. Facebook`s recent acquisition of Instagram for $1 billion and its release of its own photo-sharing mobile app, also indicate the company is making a concerted effort to cement its position in the space.

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