At the Google Progressive Web Apps afterparty last night, I had two very different conversations within five minutes of each other.
Conversation #1 went
Hey Bruce, lucky you weren’t at REDACTED conference last week. They were bad mouthing Opera! One speaker said, “Anyway, who cares about Opera Mini?”
In the time it took to drink another 5 bottles of free beer (two minutes), conversation #2 happened:
Oh Bruce, hi. We’ve just raised £100million in funding for our business in Asia, and 35% of our users are on Opera Mini.
What’s the difference? Well, for a start, one was apparently said by a European designer to a room full of European designers, in Europe. The second is the word “users”: the second conversation focussed on the fact that a technology is used by human beings, which is always, always the point.
Now, I don’t care about Opera Mini per se (I’m not its Product Manager). In the same way, I don’t care about walking sticks, wheelchairs, mobility scooters or guide dogs. But I care deeply about people who use enabling technologies — and Opera Mini is an enabling technology. It allows people on feature phones, low-powered smartphones, people in low-bandwidth areas, people with very small data plans, people who are roaming (you?) to connect to the web.
I ran the stats today. Of more than 250 million Opera Mini users, 50% are on Android/iOS and 50% are on feature phones. The second group almost certainly have no choice in which browser to use to get a full web experience. That’s 125 million people that designer-on-stage doesn’t care about. People like Donald from Nigeria, people like Silma from Bangladesh. People.
The top territories for Opera Mini use are India, Indonesia, Nigeria, Bangladesh and South Africa. Because conversation #2 was about tangible stuff – millions of pounds, and numbers, let’s look at the economic growth of these nations full of interlopers to our WWW (Wealthy Western Web).
(PPP= Gross Domestic Product per Capita, figures from CIA World Fact Book)
Sure, those PPP numbers might be low compared with the home countries of designer-on-a-stage and audience, but how do the growth rates compare? These are dynamic, emerging markets. Who cared about China ten years ago?
If you don’t care about Opera Mini users in these areas, you can bet your competitors soon will.