Opera browser to be infused with artificial intelligence
Kamath, who is the company’s vice president for South and South East Asia revealed that its new Chinese parent Kunlun Tech has built a team in Beijing, China which works in tandem with Opera’s team in Scandinavia, which is working on a new AI platform.
This team is working on a new algorithm which works in tandem with content curation teams like the one in India.
“AI will be at the core of what we do,” said Kamath. “We want to use AI to be more predictive to give the consumer what he or she wants,” he added.
Opera which is the 5th largest web browser in the world and has over 300 million users across its range of products on mobile and desktop combined, is sitting on a lot of data. Opera believes this data can be used by AI to intelligently offer content to users who use its products.
Opera Neon a test bed for AI?
Opera which recently launched the Neon browser ; an outlandish experimental web browser is hoping to use it like a test bed for all its new endeavours.
“Expect crazy AI stuff on Neon,” said Kamath. “I would say Neon is like a test bed for us. It will be the platform for us to test new technologies and get feedback from consumers and geeks alike,” he said.
The feedback it will receive will eventually trickle down the main Opera products which also holds true for its artificial intelligence dreams.
Kamath also believed that innovation on the desktop browser was important which was a reason behind the investment behind Neon.
“We want the consumer to choose, which is why we believe innovation on desktop is important,” Kamath added
Kunlun a positive influence
A lot of the new direction is because of Kunlun which is the new Chinese parent behind Opera. This also includes its move towards leveraging artificial intelligence.
“Even with the new Chinese owner we haven’t changed the way we work,” revealed Kamath.
Additionally, Kamath added that the core Opera technology and product team was still based out of Scandinavia.
He viewed being owned by a Chinese company to not being a disadvantage but rather felt that if a company was ethical in its practices, it would always do the right thing for its users.
Chinese billionaire Zhou Yahui who owns Beijing Kunlun Tech is in fact promoting a culture where Kunlun learns from Opera.
“He wants to incorporate some of the Opera practices in his organisation,” said Kamath.
Opera under Kunlun also doesn’t face the heat of the stock market as it is now privately held.
“Opera was always shareholder-oriented and now since we are a private company, we are very aggressive the way we build our marketshare,” revealed Kamath, citing the positive influence of the acquisition on the company.
1 billion users
One of the big ambitions Opera has under its new parent is to have 1 billion users. Google’s Chrome browser has already hit that mark, but Opera doesn’t intend to compete with it as it is far behind with 300 million users.
“Opera’s focus has been on increasing the pie of mobile users than focusing on taking away marketshare from the competition,” said Kamath.
In a way, Opera wants to more than triple its user base in two years. For this, it is hedging its bet on a mobile first strategy which is working in a market like India typified by the fact that India is the number 1 market for its Opera Max service which alone has 50 million users across the world.
“We are on a roadmap to get a billion users on Opera and if mobile is the most obvious channel, then yes,” said Kamath. “In emerging markets we are very mobile first,” he added, something that’s not new.
In India, it continues to work with likes of Micromax, Karbonn and Intex. In some cases, like in case of the Samsung Galaxy J, it opens up an application programming language (API) for a product like the Opera Max, and the OEM sells it like its own feature. This is another way it acquires users who don’t directly use its products.
Recently, it also launched a video on demand service in a bid to differentiate itself from the competition and offer more features to its users.
To help itself reach the 1 billion user mark, Opera sees India as key.
“In India we want to double our marketshare in the next two years from where we are today. We will depend on technology and distribution which means we will invest in this market and we will go into tier 2 and tier 3 cities and create a brand to get mobile users on board, and if Opera is the entry channel for that, it will be great,” said Kamath.