Facebook Said to Be Interested in Norwegian browser maker Opera Software

Facebook is interested in buying Norwegian browser maker Opera Software.

Less than two weeks after raising $16 billion through an initial public offering, social networking giant Facebook is planning to buy Norwegian browser maker Opera Software, according to a report.

Citing an unnamed trusted source, UK-based technology website Pocket-lint on Saturday reported that the Menlo Park, California-based company is looking to buy Opera Software, which claims to have around 270 million users across all of its platforms.

Giving credibility to the report, The Next Web, citing a solid source, reported that Opera Software is talking to potential buyers and that there’s currently a hiring freeze at the company.

Facebook, led by Mark Zuckerberg, has promised investors of transforming the social networking site’s mobile and advertising experiences by building its own browser on a mobile operating system based on Android software and even its own social smartphone, and an acquisition would save time from building a new one from scratch.

Facebook vs OperaOslo Stock Exchange-listed Opera Software’s browser has about 270 million people using its Opera browser every month, and more than 168 million using it in March 2012, with a total of 117 billion pages served.

It holds a mere 1.76 per cent market share, making it last in the desktop browser market. But the Oslo-based company is one of the leading mobile browser providers with a market share of 21.52 per cent, which is why Facebook is showing a keen interest in the company.

California-based web analytics firm Net Applications had this month said that Opera browser’s share of the mobile browser market for April is around 12 per cent, just half what it was a year earlier. Most of its users have switched to Apple’s Safari, the default browser on the iPhone and iPad, while Net Applications’ Irish rival, StatCounter, said that Opera had a 21.5 per cent share in April, with Safari at 23.7 per cent.

Founded in 1995, Opera software has a market capitlisation of $670 million and posted sales of $150 million in 2011. The company expects to post around $50 million in revenue for the second quarter of this year.

The biggest acquisition made by Facebook was the purchase of popular photo-sharing app maker Instagram, for about $1 billion in April 2012, while Opera software has made two acquisitions of  mobile advertising companies – Mobile Theory and 4th Screen Advertising, to expand in the US and the European markets.

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