Opera browserThe majority of attention has always been on FireFox, the open-sauced and black horse alternative to Internet Explorer.

However, the other browser, Opera, has not been faring so badly either. In fact, Nintendo’s hit Wii console has put Opera into more than eight million living rooms so far. Additionally, Mini has also made the Web usable for millions more mobile phone users.

So, how did it all happen? Well, The Register has a recent interview with the founder of Opera, and we summarized some of the more juicy bits for your reading pleasure. Alternatively, you can hope over to read the full article titled: Thinking outside the Opera box.

On the speed of the application, especially on a mobile device

Software engineers will always find ways to make a device seem slow. I’m a software engineer – I know I did…

We did a visual comparison of Opera Mini in the labs, using the same Web sites Steve Jobs used at the launch of the iPhone demonstrating how quickly it runs on GPRS against the iPhone on Wi-Fi. On GPRS, Mini is faster. We did it for fun.

On compatibility with Web sites

It’s a chicken and egg situation, which means we need to get more users. And we are. We have by far the most used mobile Web browser…

[Mini’s] the fifth most used browser in the world and in some countries it’s beating Safari, and others it’s beating Mozilla.

On whether the Mini makes money

We’re not making money off Mini at this time. But we have achieved one billion page views, and so we believe we can have business models with Mini that don’t upset users.

We make money through operator deals and the Yahoo! deal… [The big Telcos gets specialized versions with their own front page] – and they pay us for the hosting.

On whether more users are growing dissatisfied with FireFox over performance and user experience

We’ve had a lot of negative comments ourselves over the year; for example, when we introduced tabbed browsing a lot of people say it doesn’t make sense.

… we would like to focus on features and giving users a good experience.

On the reason behind Opera’s performance and speed

It’s easier to be efficient if you’re coding every piece of code yourself. I’ve seen it myself.

[A tiny footprint] has been a focus for us – Opera runs on 10-year-old hardware. But we noticed external code takes up time and we write our own libraries. There are libraries out there that satisfy a lot more different kinds of programmers – but when you use it your program becomes slower and slower.

Is Opera Mobile stagnating?

Stagnating? No. What’s happening is there’s a new version in the works based on Opera 9… Opera 9 is based on Core 2. There are significant changes under the hood.

We see Mini and Mobile as complimentary products. Mini runs on Java, and there’s a Brew version in the works that I’m very enthusiastic about.

So there you go. Now for the million-dollar question: Do you even surf the Web on your mobile device? Is it even practical?