The growing popularity of WebKit in the mobile and embedded space is eroding the demand for commercial mobile Web browsing technology, but Opera has managed to stay in the game on handheld devices and set-top boxes. The company announced this week at CES that it will be extending its mobile SDK lineup and launching a beta of Opera Devices 10 for Windows CE.
The SDKs have gained some of Opera’s latest enhancements to its HTML rendering engine, such as support for HTML5 and CSS3 features—including CSS transforms. The SDKs also offer some unique features from Opera’s desktop and mobile browsers, including the Opera Turbo accelerator which uses server-side rendering to reduce the network overhead of loading pages.
Opera is aiming for broader adoption on Linux set-top boxes with some new features in its Web Widgets system, which has been enhanced on Linux to support interaction from TV remote control devices. The Linux SDK also supports hardware accelerated rendering and DirectFB.
On the Windows front, the new Opera browser for Windows CE could attract some interest from hardware makers that are shipping Windows CE on low-cost ARM-based smartbooks. We saw several such devices debut for under $100 last year. If Opera offers competitive licensing costs that don’t inflate the price of the devices, it could be a good replacement for Internet Explorer on products of that nature.
Opera’s mobile technology is still as strong as ever, but it’s unclear if the company’s business model is sustainable in a market that increasingly demands open source solutions. Opera suffered roughly $2 million in losses last quarter and is struggling to find niches where there is still strong demand for its products and services. In related news, Opera CEO Jon von Tetzchner—who I interviewed during the Mobilize conference last year—has stepped down and will shift into an advisory role. His successor is Lars Boilesen, the company’s chief commercial officer.