After several months in beta, the Vivaldi browser has officially landed on Android . In this way, the Google Play Store receives one more alternative to the famous Google Chrome, although Vivaldi has a few aces up his sleeve to deal with it. Needless to say, it’s a completely free app and compatible with all Android devices with Android 5.0 Lollipop or higher, tablets and Chromebooks.
On the other hand, in SamaGame we had the opportunity not only to hear the news of Vivaldi for Android, but also to speak with Jon von Tetzchner , the CEO of the company, to learn more about the history of Vivaldi. and how they intend to fight in a market capitalized, mainly, by Google Chrome.
Vivaldi was born from Opera
Jon von Tetzchner during his opera scene.
It’s likely that Jon von Tetzchner’s name will ring true to some users, and that’s because the Icelandic was the co-founder and CEO of Opera Software until 2011 . Yes, Opera Software, the company that created the Opera browser. He left the company after third-party investors started entering, a move they had no alternative to, Tetzchner says.
According to the CEO, “we made a mistake on the investors and we didn’t realize it until much later”. Investors wanted to sell the company, which was finally done in 2016 to a group of Chinese investors. In fact, it was listed on the NASDAQ in July 2018. Von Tetzchner left the company in 2011 and in 2013 he founded Vivaldi Technologies , whose products are primarily the desktop browser and the recent Vivaldi for Android.
In the words of Jon von Tetzchner:
“I am not satisfied with the direction taken by Opera after its departure. I figured I would keep using Opera forever and instead I had to start another browsing company because Opera had stopped doing what Opera was doing before. “So clearly the most important thing for me is to make sure that what we do at Vivaldi is something that keeps us on track by focusing on the needs of end users. ”
And why Vivaldi? For the violinist? Not exactly. The name comes from the fact that the previous company was called Opera, so for this company, they wanted to stay in the same musical line. Vivaldi is a ‘sweet’ name, easily remembered and somehow connects the internet and music , because in both there is ‘a lot of different content’.
Vivaldi was born to replace My Opera, the Opera virtual community which was closed by the company in 2014. It was not until 2015 that Vivaldi released the first version of its browser. Since then, the search engine has continued to evolve and add functions. It stands out with its very minimalistic as well as customizable interface , allows you to take measurements with the mouse, take notes on websites and sync them across all devices, keeping in mind that Chromium is compatible with Chrome extensions. It does not collect or sell user data.
Vivaldi earns $ 1 per user per year from search engine offers and affiliate bookmark links, von Tetzchner says
The director of the company points out that they are not looking to compete with the big names in the market , see Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Safari or Microsoft Edge, which is starting to gain momentum. Vivaldi, in fact, has around 1,500,000 users on the desktop . Their business model consists of deals with search engines and affiliate bookmark links, which is well worth it to generate “one dollar per user per year”. The accounts are done alone.
Jon von Tetzchner explains that the company’s slogan is “a browser for our friends” because its goal has always been to “focus on people”. The CEO says his feeling is that “Opera left its friends alone,” referring to turning its back on the community that helped build Opera. “Opera said, ‘well, we’re going to change everything and build a totally different product,’ and users didn’t like it. At Vivaldi, we have this principle of adapting to the needs of the end user […] We just say “if the users ask for something, we will find a way to satisfy that need”, explains von Tetzchner.
The challenge of fighting the mobile giants
Jon von Tetzchner, now as CEO of Vivaldi.
Vivaldi for Android comes at a very difficult time. There are many browsers on Android, each with their own approach, but according to NetMarketShare the ones that remain on the podium are Chrome, Safari and Samsung Browser, which they cover 93% of the market . The remaining 7% are distributed among all the other browsers, where we find Firefox and its share of 0.66%, Opera with its 0.43% and Edge with 0.03%.
Jon von Tetzchner already has experience battling giants, because when Opera began its peregrinations, NetScape was the owner and lord of the browser market. Now NetScape is little more than the history of the Internet and Chrome on the crown . For the CEO, “the competition has always been competition with the big guys” and believes that despite the fact that Chrome is very big, there is always room for new things.
According to him, “all browsers are somewhat similar” and are “of limited functionality” because they compete more on distribution than on functionality . Jon is aware that they don’t have a distro, so they have to convince people “by providing great features”
The reception of the beta was very positive, to the point that they made between 50,000 and 100,000 downloads (they did not tell us the exact number, but the range). The launch of the official version was delayed because one of the most common requests from users was that there should be an ad blocker, so they developed and implemented it.
Screenshots of the beta version of Android.
The key for Vivaldi is to gain users through features, listen to feedback, and improve the product accordingly. “We don’t need 60% market share to be profitable as a business,” said von Tetzchner, who said: “It’s okay, even if you’re not as big as Chrome, we don’t need to beat Chrome So the question is how to attract these users, and word of mouth plays a fundamental role.
The problem isn’t just the browsers and features, it’s convenience. Google preinstalls Chrome on almost all smartphones sold around the world , Samsung does the same with its own and Xiaomi more of the same. It is convenient to use the preinstalled browser because it avoids installation, and here the big manufacturers have an advantage.
The CEO recognizes that this is an aspect in which “they work”. We asked him if a brand had approached them to pre-install their browser, to which Jon replied “that there was an opportunity to do so” and that there was “some interest” , although for the moment its goal is not that one. So far, the company has focused on releasing the final version, so it’s not something they’ve been looking for. The CEO is also thinking about it:
“We want to get distribution but really, and this is something we’ve learned from the Opera business, Opera distribution has come mostly by word of mouth. It certainly helped and is part of it more and more. larger user base over time. In fact, the focus should be on providing quality products. If we have good products there will also be more interest in distribution, no, we have to have something unique. But in any case, even if we don’t receive the distribution, if you have a good browser, people will tend to share what they are using with their friends. ”
To get this product, Jon considers one of its advantages that the employees are the owners of the company. This gives them the freedom to do whatever they see fit with their product without being accountable to investors. Right now, the company is proud of the 1.5 million users it has amassed and hopes to see what happens after the new version is released . The reason is simple: Vivaldi has cross-platform sync, so it’s normal that after trying the Android version, few users want to try it on PC.
“We don’t have the funds to invest in advertising of any kind and we mainly depend on word of mouth”
Vivaldi is a small business and whether your browser reaches more people will depend on the users . “We don’t have the funds to invest in advertising of any kind and we rely mostly on word of mouth,” which is a challenge given they compete with billionaire companies of much wider reach.
For next year, Jon is hoping his browser has hit millions of downloads , without getting wet in a figure. And it works well, because in April 2005 von Tetzchner said that if Opera surpassed 1 million downloads in four days, it would go from Norway to the United States. The goal was achieved and clearly failed in the attempt.
Finally, we asked Jon if they have any plans for an iOS version, to which he says yes, but they have the problem of having to build a build all over again because they can’t recycle the code. Jon states that “our goal is to support as many users as possible. There are two main platforms on the mobile side and we are currently supporting the larger one but we would like to support both. ”
How is Vivaldi for Android
Jon von Tetzchner’s company wanted to bet on a desktop interface , which results in opening tabs for the websites we have in the top area. This way the user can switch from one to the other with just a push. This feature is enabled by default, but can be disabled in settings to get more space at the top.
Specifically, this function makes more sense when the browser is used in landscape format. Besides keeping the tabs in the top area, Vivaldi moves the bottom buttons to the top right corner , so the interface looks more like a desktop browser. The idea is that through this graphically tweak the user can access the desktop version of the web and read comfortably.
It also has a tab switch It lets you access an open, private, recently closed, and even open tab on another device using gestures. To access tabs open on other devices, you need to turn sync on, because yes, like Chrome and other browsers, Vivaldi has private sync between devices .
In the stable version released today, some well-known Vivaldi implementations are kept, such as shortcut folders and speed dial, which allows quick access to frequently visited websites. The “Notes” function is also maintained, which allows you to write quick notes or copy text from a website directly to the browser, and the “Snap” function, which allows you to capture an entire page or select a page. specific area . Finally, it supports dark mode.
When it comes to browsing, the reason the launch of the stable version has been delayed for so long is that ad blocker users and they had to develop it. Vivaldi for Android uses DuckDuckGo’s Radar Tracking List to block ads and trackers. This feature is disabled by default, but can be enabled in whole or in part (using a whitelist ) in the settings.
There is also news on the desktop
While our focus has been on Vivaldi for Android, the company has also released Vivaldi version 3.0 for desktop . Highlights include the ad blocker and trackers, which work like Android, a clock in the status bar that lets you set up alerts and reminders right in the browser, and a navigation system that lets you find accessing web links by pressing Shift + cursor keys.
The source: Engadget