Norway’s Opera software has been working to push the Web browser envelope for years, and while they haven’t captures massive market share among desktop browsers they have made significant inroads in mobile browsers and other arenas—who do you think made the Web browser in the Nintendo Wii? Now, Opera Software is looking to “reinvent the Web” via Opera Unite, a new collection of free services that lets users share files, music, pictures, and more—plus run their own chat and Web servers—all without requiring data storage from upstream servers. Communication all happens between individual users’ personal computers, with no middle man.
“Today, we are opening the full potential of the Web for everyone,” said Opera CEO Jon von Tetzchner, in a statement. “Opera Unite now decentralizes and democratizes the cloud. With server capability in the browser, Web developers can create Web applications with profound ease. Consumers have the flexibility to choose private and efficient ways of sharing information. We believe Opera Unite is one of our most significant innovations yet, because it changes forever the fundamental fabric of the Web.”
Opera Unite is designed to run with the Opera Web browser, although other users can access shared files and media with any modern Web browser. Services included in Opera Unit include Photo and File Sharing, a Media Player that lets users tap into their personal music collections remotely, a self-contained chat service called The Lounge, a “Fridge” where friends can post notes, and an integrated Web server that can be accessed worldwide via a custom Opera Unite URL. Opera Unite operates using the same Opera ID used by other services like Opera Link and My Opera.
Opera Unite is certainly unlike any other services offered by mainstream Web browsers, and although the individual technologies aren’t new, so far industry watchers are favorably impressed with how Opera has been able to bring them together and make them accessible to everyday users. The question now is whether Opera Unite will generate enough interest among developers—or give birth to a “killer app”—that will truly change the dynamic of the Web. In the meantime, Opera will continue to enhance Opera Unite (which is currently in alpha form and a little sharp on the corners), possibly by adding new features and functionality.