Opera announces transition to WebKit, Chromium

Opera Software today announced hitting a total of 300 million monthly users across all its browser products on phones, tablets, TVs and computers.

“300 million marks the first lap, but the race goes on,” says Lars Boilesen, CEO of Opera Software, in a statement. “On the final stretch up to 300 million users, we have experienced the fastest acceleration in user growth we have ever seen. Now, we are shifting into the next gear to claim a bigger piece of the pie in the smartphone market.”

To provide a leading browser on Android and iOS, this year Opera will make a gradual transition to the WebKit engine, as well as Chromium, for most of its upcoming versions of browsers for smartphones and computers.

“The WebKit engine is already very good, and we aim to take part in making it even better. It supports the standards we care about, and it has the performance we need,” says CTO of Opera Software, Håkon Wium Lie, in a statement. “It makes more sense to have our experts working with the open source communities to further improve WebKit and Chromium, rather than developing our own rendering engine further. Opera will contribute to the WebKit and Chromium projects, and we have already submitted our first set of patches: to improve multi-column layout.”

The first look at what Opera is bringing to the smartphone game as a result of this switch will be shown at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona this month, with a preview of its upcoming browser for Android.

“Opera is also experimenting with WebKit in several research and development projects, and many of you got a peek of one of them, codenamed ‘ICE’, last month. As a leading innovator in browsers, we are very excited that ICE received such great buzz. We will provide more information about ICE and other exciting R&D projects in the future, but as we are also really proud of our new browser on Android and our Opera Web Pass operator offering, those products will be the main focus at MWC,” says Wium Lie. “The shift to WebKit means more of our resources can be dedicated to developing new features and the user-friendly solutions that can be expected from a company that invented so many of the features that are today being used by everyone in the browser industry.”

Source: Opera Software ASA

MacDailyNews Note: The WebKit project was started by Apple back in June 2001. Apple open-sourced WebKit in 2004. On April 9, 2010, Apple announced WebKit2 This was integrated into Safari as of version 5.1. Chromium is the open source web browser project (The Chromium Project) from which Google Chrome draws its source code.

With over 500 million iOS devices and some 70 million OS X users currently, Apple’s Safari is on pace to exceed 1 billion users by 2015.


  1. I have to say that I love Opera on my Mac. One-click list of bookmarks on the left in hierarchical/expandable folders, great zooming, option to turn on or off graphics for speed, remembers multiple user names/password for the same web site, groupable tabs (must see to appreciate!) and pretty fast too.

    The only problem I have with Opera is that 1Password doesn’t work with it. However, if they move to Webkit, I’m sure it will.

    This is good news all around…

  2. Chromium is better than Chrome and much better than the bug fest of Safari. Google has loaded Chrome with BS that is thankfully left out of Chromium. The extensions for Chrome will also work on Chromium.

    BTW- Webkit started with Apple but was derived from the KDE Konqueror project which was first released in October 2000.

    1. I’d be curious to know what bugs you experience with Safari, as my experience tends to be quite different. I did switch from Safari 5 to Chrome (and then later, Chromium) due to Chrome being so much faster, but when Safari 6 came out, I switched back and haven’t looked back even once. Safari 6 uses vastly less system resources and is far more stable (and, no pesky Google integration).

      I still use Chromium for sites that either a) don’t render properly, or b) testing purposes, but Safari 6 was a game-changer for me.

      The only thing I wish I still had was something similar to Google CloudPrint. The closest I can find is Printopia, which works great for local stuff, but not so much for printing over the Internet.

      1. 1- If one uses Safari for long web sessions with lots of pages open it tends to become unstable and later unresponsive. In my case the problem is not a lack of memory, horsepower or Internet connection. 8GB on a Mac Pro with a cable internet connection should not be having this kind of trouble.
        The same usage on Chrome or Chromium does not present any problems. It seems to me that the stability issues with Safari started when they made it more aggressive in it’s caching of websites.
        2- Apple’s ongoing security tweaks have made certain functionality FUBAR on some websites. For example clicking on certain links or buttons on some sites do not work in Safari but do work on Chrome & Chromium.

        1. In regard to number 1, is this based on experience with Safari 5 or Safari 6? I used to have this issue with Safari 5, which is why I switched to Chrome in the first place. When Safari 6 was released, I switched back and have never had the issue again.

          As for number 2, I still keep Chromium on my computer for when I need to launch a page that doesn’t work properly in Safari. It doesn’t happen very often, though my Internet usage and yours probably differ a fair bit. You used to be able to report a page not working correctly directly from Safari so that the devs could fix it. Not sure if that feature still exists.

          1. The problem is not as widespread with Safari 6, but it is in no way the best browser for the Mac. Safari has become bloated and slow- as have other aspects of Mac OS over time. I know the problem is not hardware or software as I have bootable copies of Snow Leopard, Mountain Lion and Lion all a reboot away.

            Safari started getting crappy when they added top sites and other stuff not essential to web browsing. Even with that stuff turned off it is not as good. Safari used to scream.

            1. I’m going to assume that this is one of those issues wherein one user’s experience will differ from another, based on workflow, software configuration, and the like, as I’ve not had any issues at all with Safari 6 being slow or bloated. Of course, I use Click2Plugin to disable Flash and Java selectively, which doesn’t exist in Chrome (although, I believe there may be a similar tool for it, I just didn’t use it).

              But in my experience, even on a 5 year old iMac with only 4GB of RAM running Mountain Lion, Safari is still blazing fast.

              It sounds like Chrome/Chromium works great for you, which is awesome. I’ll stick to Safari for the time being, and maybe revisit Chromium the next time it adds something to make it better for my workflow.

  3. Can’t wait, Opera 12.X is a POS. I recently downgrade back to 11.64 and it was light night and day, until it automatically upgraded to 12.14….

    Been using Opera since my Psion 5.

    1. Damn I miss the old Psion 5MX. What a mini powerhouse. Imagine what it could be today if they had displayed the marketing savvy of Palm. My iPhone 5 is small and versatile but, oh, how I miss that little keyboard and small software/memory package!

  4. Let’s be real here: Apple did NOT invent WebKit. Apple created a branch and elaboration off the already open source Konquerer web browser project, developed by KDE:



    WebKit’s HTML and JavaScript code originally began as a fork of the KHTML and KJS libraries from KDE, and has now been further developed by individuals from KDE, Apple, Nokia, Google, Bitstream, RIM, Igalia, and others. OS X, Windows, GNU/Linux, and some other Unix-like operating systems are supported by the project.

    WebKit’s WebCore and JavaScriptCore components are available under the GNU Lesser General Public License, and the rest of WebKit is available under a BSD-form license.

        1. Your analysis is flawed. It’s like taking credit from Beethoven because he didn’t invent music. The ninth symphony was not a virgin project ;-). Music was already around.

          In a way OSX, iPhone, iPad, iTunes, iPod you name it. All this was already around in one form or another, but how made them great! OSX is the most popular Unix around. Fur shur!

  5. Apple should never have made webKit open source… Biggest misstate ever. So much GooSung, Microsoft, BlackBerry have benefitted from this and the users does not even know its an Apple product from the beginning. So sad. Apple also also made some iMessage thing or FaceTime thing open source like 2 years ago. For some strange reason… Again. Big mistake.

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