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Opera pulls trigger on baked-in ad blocker

Gregg Keizer | May 5, 2016
First of the Top 5 browsers to integrate an ad blocker.

It's also not the first browser to adopt an ad-blocking strategy: In January, a new browser called Brave debuted with a business model that explicitly relied on blocking website ads. Unlike Opera, however, Brave plans to replace the stricken ads with its own, a plan that has drawn the ire of U.S. newspaper publishers, which a month ago threatened to sue the browser maker if it persisted.

Interestingly, for all Opera's emphasis on the ad blocker, the tool is turned off by default. To enable it, users must pull up "Settings" -- on OS X, it's labeled "Preferences" -- head to the "Privacy & security" page, and click the box under "Block ads." It may have taken that route to sidestep the fierce criticism from advertisers that other browser makers have faced in the past when they switched features on by default: In 2012, for example, Microsoft came under fire from a long list of large American companies -- including Intel, McDonalds and Visa -- when it said it would enable the now-moribund "Do Not Track" signal in Internet Explorer 10 (IE10).

Microsoft later stepped back from its Do Not Track position.

Opera Software's board of directors wants to sell the company to a consortium of Chinese investors, which include Beijing Kunlun Tech, a mobile game maker; Qihoo, known for its search and anti-malware business in the People's Republic of China; and private equity firm Golden Brick Silk Road Fund Management. The group has offered $1.2 billion for the firm.

Shareholders have until May 24 to vote on the proposed sale.

According to Opera Software's fiscal year 2015 annual report, $418 million of its year-long total of $620 million in revenue, or 67%, was booked from its mobile advertising arm, which delivers ads to users from third-party apps and websites. Much of the remainder also stemmed from ads in one way or another: Opera was paid approximately $50 million, or 8% of the total, for setting Google or Yandex -- the latter is a Russian search provider -- as the default search in the desktop browser.

Opera 37, the stable build for Windows, OS X and Linux, can be downloaded from the Opera Software site. Opera Mini for Android must be downloaded from Google Play.

Source: Computerworld


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