Opera plans desktop browser push in Seattle

Opera Software ASA on Tuesday will use Seattle as the venue for the launch of the next version of its desktop browser and a marketing campaign to lure more users, according to blogs that track the company's moves.

According to Daniel Goldman, founder and editor in chief of the Opera Watch blog, the Norwegian browser company is expected to launch Opera 9 at an event in rival Microsoft Corp.'s backyard. Opera Chief Executive Officer Jon von Tetzchner is expected to attend the event, where the company also is likely to introduce a "serious" campaign to attract more users to its desktop browser, he said on Opera Watch.

"It seems clear to me that Opera will kick start a grand marketing campaign aimed at increasing their market share of the desktop browser," Goldman wrote in a blog entry. http://operawatch.com/news/2006/06/opera-9-just-around-the-corner-grand-marketing-campaign-in-the-works.html.

Only a very small percentage of desktop users currently use Opera on their machines, as Microsoft Corp.'s Internet Explorer and Mozilla Corp.'s Firefox browsers are more popular with PC users, and Macintosh users generally use Apple Computer Inc.'s Safari browser.

Opera has had much more success with its mobile browser, Opera for Mobile, which according to the company was pre-installed on about 7.7 million mobile phones in the first quarter of 2006. Opera also offers a free mobile browser, the Opera Mini.

Opera also has a deal with Nintendo Co. Ltd. to offer its browser for the forthcoming Wii game console and the DS player, another partnership that may be discussed at Tuesday's event.

Opera representatives did not respond to requests for comment Monday. However, according to an internal company document viewed by the IDG News Service and available on the Web, the company planned to release Opera 9 in June.

Opera 9 has a considerable number of new features, according to Opera. The browser will include "Opera Widgets," or mini-applications that give users customized content, such as news and weather. The browser also will allow users to customize which default search engine they want to use in the browser's search box.

Other new features in Opera 9 include both improved content blocker and pop-up blocker, and the ability to set site-specific preferences, such as picking which site's cookies to accept and which to deny, Opera said.

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