So yesterday the Norwegian web browser company Opera announced both that they had reached 300 million users of it’s product across all platforms, but the bigger news was that it was going to cease it’s independent Web browser engine development on mobile, in favor of contributing to the open source WebKit engine.
Webkit is the primary engine for iOS Safari web browser, as well as Safari and Chrome desktop. In announcing this the Opera CTO wrote:
“The WebKit engine is already very good, and we aim to take part in making it even better. It supports the standards we care about, and it has the performance we need.”
This is the first time a major browser vendor has basically jumped over to a rival’s web engine, killing off their independent Opera web browsing engine named Presto. This builds more momentum behind Webkit (driven now by Apple, Google and Opera) and leaves only three web layout engines in the marketplace, Webkit, Firefox and Microsoft.
When you look at the mobile space, which all of this is really about from Opera’s perspective, it puts WebKit in a decisive lead over Microsoft’s browser, and Firefox, which due to conflicts with the Apple restrictions, is purely on the Android OS today.
Folks are still digesting this, but I think this is likely a mix of inevitable and unfortunate: the browser space needs compatibility and a Webkit-only mobile world gets you that, but I share some of the concerns of Firefox’s CTO and others… but more on that later.