Opera 'very satisfied' with browser ballot

Browser ballot screen
Opera has seen a tripling of downloads since the ballot screen was introduced

Opera has told TechRadar that it is "very satisfied" with the layout of the browser ballot screen and that it has resulted in a tripling of downloads of the Opera browser.

Speaking to TechRadar at the annual South by South West Interactive conference, Thomas Ford, Senior Communications Manager said:

"We've seen about a tripling in the number of downloads from the countries that have got the choice screen, so versus what it was before the choice screen, where we've seen it in the UK and France and Poland the downloads have about tripled.

"Now of course that was also right when we rolled out Opera 10.5 in final but it was still above and beyond what we typically see. So actually we're quite hopeful. That doesn't mean that those have all become new users but the download rate is certainly dramatically up and we're hopeful that a lot of those will stick around.

"The tripling is overall downloads but we believe most of those are attributed to the choice screen."

Now, of course, Opera has to hope that people don't immediately uninstall it and go back to IE.

"We hope that they stick around to see the features but we also worked on making Opera a lot easier to use," says Ford. "A lot of people have always said Opera is very complicated, more buttons in its user interface and so we've dramatically reduced that.

"So that we've made it easier to use, we hope that we've made it more interesting to find out the different things in Opera and what's going to keep people using it really is does it work on my favourite sites? And we've worked really hard on that in 10.5, so hopefully we'll see. The conversion rate we don't know yet – it usually takes about a month to figure out conversion, to see if they've actually become active users."

No further issues

We asked Ford whether Opera was happy with the layout and look of the ballot screen, given that the firm had previously complained that the mere sight of the big blue 'e' logo of Internet Explorer would sway users. ("The blue 'e' has become so associated with the Internet in general, due to the bundling with Windows. We think using the blue 'e' might not be such a good idea," Opera told TechFlash in 2009.)

Those worries are now over, says Ford. "From what we conceived and what we finally see we are very satisfied right now. We don't have any further issues with it.

"Over time we've had different feedback on the choice screen itself and the final version they've gone with we are now satisfied with, and now we're just excited that there really is a way for people who didn't know they had a choice on something as important as a browser that they are going to use for so much in the course of a day. And if they stick with Internet Explorer that's their choice – we just want them to know that there are choices."

We'd expect Opera to be delighted that it's on the main ballot screen, too – that users don't have to scroll to access it, as they do with less popular browsers such as K-Meleon and Flock.

"To remain in that top five is not a foregone conclusion," explains Ford. "Every half a year or so Microsoft reviews the market share numbers and so those top five are changeable.

"So we have to make sure we maintain our standing in the top five – we believe we will but it's fair that now any browser can get in there. And of course scrolling to the right – some of the browser vendors have had issues with that and the good thing is that they are more than welcome to make those issues known and take it up with the European Commission, and Microsoft has had a very good track record of being responsible about changes to it."

Global Editor-in-Chief

After watching War Games and Tron more times that is healthy, Paul (Twitter, Google+) took his first steps online via a BBC Micro and acoustic coupler back in 1985, and has been finding excuses to spend the day online ever since. This includes roles editing .net magazine, launching the Official Windows Magazine, and now as Global EiC of TechRadar.