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Facebook may buy Opera, giving ‘Facebook Phone’ rumors new life

facebook meets operaNew speculation about the long-rumored Facebook browser says that the social network is eyeing its next acquisition: Opera. According to PocketLint, an insider says Facebook is interested in buying Opera Software (which runs the Opera browser, obviously) and creating its own such application.

The idea that Facebook would take on the likes of Bing and Google Search isn’t that fantastical, and whispers about these plans have been brewing for awhile. If there’s any truth to this particular rumor, it might be that Facebook is planning to build a mobile browser app that works with its platform. Since announcing plans to go public, the company has attempted to right its mobile wrongs: It’s acquired a small army of mobile-first companies, introduced a larger photo format for its app, gotten serious about ads on mobile, and built a new standalone camera app. We’re still waiting for that primary Facebook app overhaul (please?), but it’s clearly leaps and bounds from where it sat at this time last year.

Opera is a fairly niche Web browser, but it’s made a name for itself as a great mobile browsing option. That focus lines up with Facebook’s recent M&A activity.

It also has some interesting ties to the Facebook phone rumors. Hear me out: I know that these rumors cannot be killed and that Mark Zuckerberg even once said, “Um. No,” to the speculation his company would build a phone. However, there’s a reason the mythical Facebook-meets-phone idea just won’t die and it’s because there’s got to be a sliver of truth there. It’s seems entirely plausible that Facebook will team up with a manufacturer and create its own Facebook OS (built on top of Android, perhaps). And if that were the case, then Facebook would want its own custom, proprietary browser app to go along with it.

It certainly sounds very convenient, especially when you consider what TheNextWeb drummed up about Opera: it’s currently not hiring and is very interested in being acquired instead of growing the company on its own.

The Facebook IPO has gone less than smoothly, and there are investors to please. Mobile products are the road to revenue for the company, and an Opera acquisition just makes sense. It’s nothing more than a rumor yet, but it lines up nicely with Facebook’s recent activity as well as long-standing speculation that it could tie the whole phone thing together. Finally.