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Just curious, how do browser-only companies like Opera or Mozilla make money? I know Opera Mini used to be shipped with phones, but what other sources of revenue do they have?

Advertising income due to selling the default homepage and search boxes. In case of Opera and Mozilla Corporation, the majority of that income is from Google (who calls this "traffic acquisition costs" in their accounting).

Opera also licenses their browser to many phones and devices. That market may be starting to dry up.

Opera actually has a substantial sideline in selling mobile advertising, just like AdMob et al. I know this because my current employer spun-off our mobile ad network, which Opera then bought.

Roughly speaking, search engines pay browser vendors (including even Apple) for traffic.

See for instance some analyst's speculation about a Google-Apple deal here: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=5206764

Opera sells to hardware OEMs that want an embedded browser for their devices (Nintendo Wii, Feature phones, etc). Lots of feature phones have Opera Mini.

That as well as the search revenue that was already mentioned.

Mozilla makes money by setting Google as the default search provider: http://allthingsd.com/20111222/google-will-pay-mozilla-almos...

I assume Opera makes some money this way, along with the Opera Mini deals you mention.

They default the user to search engines. And add default bookmarks.

At a conservative average of $40K pa per employee, that's an annual staff bill of around $35M annually. The Firefox-Google deal is worth $300M annually, and their user base is 15x larger.

Add in other costs, and it's not hard to see that either they've got a huge source of other income or they are hemorrhaging cash.

You assume all users are equally valuable to Google: if there were to be a market in which Opera had significant marketshare but Google had little, then those users would be far more valuable to Google than, say, an American using Firefox.

To quote the 4Q12 report:

"Opera’s monetization strategy for its desktop browser revolves predominantly around search. Google is Opera’s global search partner and provides the majority of desktop monetization. This global partnership is supplemented by local search partnerships in certain markets, such as Russia, Japan, and China, where Opera works with Yandex, Yahoo! Japan and Baidu, respective- ly. In addition, Opera has signed up e-commerce players such as Amazon.com (USA, Germany, Japan), Booking.com (64 countries), and Ozon (Russia) to further enhance ARPU."

"Desktop Consumer" made 16MUSD in the last quarter: that's ~64MUSD annually. Of course, that won't be all the Google revenue (as there's also the default browser on other platforms), but gives a reasonable baseline figure.

The minimum hourly wage for an 18+ employee with no education and no experience the area in Norway is 152 NOK which is 28 USD. That's what you might get if you were to help building a house.

So the only way you might get a $40k/year in Norway, is if you are under 18 and work in a supermarket. Here it's 102 NOK/hour (but you probably wouldn't be allowed to have a full time job like that, this is just if you help out in a shop say 10 hours/week as an extra job while getting an education).

That's all the net wage, not including overhead!

Expect a pizza and a beer to cost you $50. Maybe $100 if you want some Danish cheese on top of it, which has a 277 percent custom tax. Foreign lamb has 429%. Such is the result of Norway not being part of EU proper!

Source: http://www.arbeidstilsynet.no/fakta.html?tid=90849

Opera's accounting is public. Last I remember, they were profitable and were taking in significantly more per user than Mozilla.


•Revenue growth of 39% (40% FX adjusted)

•Record revenue and strong profits

At a conservative average of $40K pa per employee

Well that's extremely conservative. I don't know whether you speak from personal knowledge of Norwegian market but I can tell you that it's about 1/4 of what a intermediate/senior level engineer in the bay area would make. In fact it's about at the level of what a senior engineer (from a top level school) in India would make.

It was very conservative (although I guess not all Opera employees are senior engineers). I was trying to make the point that there's no way Opera can be profitable from just selling search engine traffic. The open accounts show that they spent around $25M on salaries in Q4 of last year.

You're assuming the money paid is linear in number of users. Given Opera's publicly available finances, that assumption seems to be false.

Opera sells "speed dial" bookmark promotion, for one.

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