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Will Facebook Build A Revolutionary Opera Smartphone?

Mobile & TelcoFeatures
by Desire Athow
, 29 May 2012Features
Will Facebook Build A Revolutionary Opera Smartphone?

Opera knows the web very well indeed; the company has been developing web browsers for over 15 years and has more than 250 million users globally - by comparison, Google was founded in September 1998.

So, after all the fuss and hype of Facebook's IPO, two seemingly separate rumours about a potential acquisition of Opera and the launch of a Facebook smartphone surfaced - this got me thinking.

What if Facebook wanted an Opera smartphone instead? And no, it wouldn't be "just another smartphone with a nice little browser". If that's all Facebook wanted, it could have chosen to acquire social media web browser RockMelt or built its own using Google's open source Chromium.

There's a few unique features that Opera has developed, that Facebook could be eyeing. Opera is the only major browser to ship with a proprietary "Turbo" functionality that allows webpages to load faster on slow Internet connections by compressing them through Opera's own servers. Handy to break into that next billion user market where Internet connectivity is slow and unreliable.

Also, three years ago, Opera came up with a new technology platform allowing users to share content directly without having to upload anything to a website. That technology, called Unite which could have been so promising, is being phased out by Opera. Unite was, essentially, the blueprint for what could be considered a stand alone web server.

Back when Unite was launched, many failed to see that it was a platform rather than an end product. Maybe Facebook - the ecosystem - will become that end product. Bring Unite to a smartphone and you get a web server on a mobile, one that could potentially bypass mobile phone operators by enabling communication - somehow - directly between smartphones.

This would probably require something smaller than a femto cell (attocell? yottacell? zeptocell?) but could well turn out to be the biggest game changer to hit the world of technology in the past 20 years. Its success, though, will depend on spreading the Gospel of the "Facebookphone" faster than any other consumer electronics devices before. It is likely that Facebook will tie up with a number of smartphone manufacturers (like it did to launch other Facebook phones with Alcatel, HTC or Huawei to spread such a technology.

So let's make it clear. Facebook would provide a template to manufacturers and build the Facebookphone, knowing that there are one billion potential customers and more on the way. The template would comprise of hardware, software and middleware variants and would be more Android than Windows Phone in its philosophy.

On top of all this, Opera also own AdMarvel, a mobile ad network, which would come handy as Facebook tries to monetise its mobile traffic.

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