Opera BrowserIn an interview at Opera Watch last week, Opera CEO Jon von Tetzchner responded to the eternal question: with less than 1% of global marketshare, why should web developers make the effort to support Opera? His response demonstrates another perspective on the numbers:

I believe we have something like 10 – 15 million active desktop users. That is actually quite a lot of people.

If you try to think about it, the place that I’m come from is Iceland. I was born in Iceland, that’s three hundred thousand people – we have a lot more. The place I live is Norway – we have a lot more. Actually if you look at it, the US has about 300 million people that live here, 50 states, about 6 million in each state on average. So which states have people that you would like to ignore?

He goes on to add that Opera Mobile is installed on 40 million mobile phones, with an additional 7 million people actually using Opera Mini. And then there are devices like the Nintendo DS and Wii…

Going by 2005 numbers, only four states have 15 million people or more: California (36M), Texas (23M), New York (19M), and Florida (18M). So take the 10–15M desktop users, the 7M Opera Mini users, and even 10% of the 40M mobile install base, and you’re looking at 21–26 million—the equivalent of the population of Texas.

Put that way, it doesn’t seem so small.

If you’re already supporting Firefox, in most cases the changes to support Opera 9 are minimal. The recently-launched Opera Developer Community has has tools, articles, and other resources to help build cross-platform sites.

Unless, of course, you don’t mind writing off a potential audience the size of Texas.

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