Sunil Kamath, SVP-Asia at Opera Software, is well-experienced in planning and executing growth strategies for Opera’s business and brings with him a wealth of experience and insights within the telecom and consumer mobile domains. He speaks to Guardian 20  about his journey, new innovations and the cut-throat competition within the industry.

Q. Can you tell me about your journey and role in Opera Software?

A. I joined Opera in 2010 to initially set up the South Asia business and later took on South East Asia responsibilities as well. This is my most challenging yet fulfilling seven year journey with Opera. We have achieved numerous milestones in the region when it comes to user growth, revenue growth and tier-1 partnerships with carriers in the region. My primary role is to ensure growth of users on Opera products, drive content partnerships to increase engagement, partner with advertisers to build monetisation. I am also focused on working with various partners to build the Opera brand and share updates on our products at media events, industry forums etc.

Q. How do you perceive the recent advancements in the web browser segment of the software industry?

A. There has been a rapid growth in the web browser industry as mobile phones became the device that the internet users spend most of their time on, especially in mobile-first countries such as India. The browser has to be smaller in size due to the memory limitation and offers faster browsing experience. In addition, the advancement and adoption of HTML5 allows smartphone users to enjoy web content and services offline and have an app-like experience through browsers. Mobile browser becomes one of the few apps that people spend time on because people can use it for accessing various services and content without installing additional apps on their phones.

Q. What makes the Opera Mini browser unique in comparison to other web browsers?

A. Opera Mini has been one of the mainstays when it comes to Android web browsers. Our compression technology makes the internet lighter and more affordable as the data use of the web page can be reduced up to 90%. This makes a huge difference if you are on a limited data plan or a slow network. The app itself is also smaller in size and we frequently upgrade it with all kinds of new features. They include an AI-powered news engine to deliver relevant and interesting content instantly, Opera Cricket where you can get result updates and personalised notification about the matches, and a revamped data saving counter to help users to keep track of how much data they use. On top of that, Opera Mini offers Facebook notification bar which can be added to users’ notification drawer. It keeps people up-to-date on the latest news, and activity from their profile.

Q. How are you taking on competition from other web browsers such as UCWeb?

A. We believe in innovation and creating unique features for our consumers. Over the years, we have updated the Opera web browser with resourceful features such as an easy to use UI, additional language support and localiwed content, and one of the best download managers available. Our compression technology has also improved to include video optimization that reduces data usage when streaming. For the next generation of the Opera Mini browser, we are leveraging the power of AI with our compression technology so that people can read relevant online content easier and faster without requiring any advanced setup. This is particularly useful for first-time internet users who want to navigate the web without any guidance.

 With increasing usage of internet and apps, we understood that there is also a dire need to manage apps’ data. Opera Max, our data management and data saving Android app, is one such solution that combines the secure connection of what a VPN provides and data saving compression technology to give users a secure way of managing data usage and data saving for all apps, including all other browser apps, in a simple manner.

Q. With so many web browsers coming in year after year, where do you see the industry headed over the next few years?

A. The emergence of 4G and fall in data cost are revolutionising the Indian internet market wherein mobile phones are being touted as one of the greatest mediums of change. With this innovation and demand increasing for smartphones, the way is being prepared for brands to come up with products and services which would act as solutions to the needs of the fast-evolving consumers. In the next few years, the industry will witness a change in trends like the adoption of IOT, Artificial Intelligence etc. The user interface of the browser will change and there will be new ways to browse.

 Sunil Kamath.

Q. What do you see as the Opera Mini browser’s biggest challenge this financial year?

A. The biggest challenge for Opera Mini is that it has been considered as a browser for basic phones. In fact, Opera Mini has evolved and offers more than you think for both high-end and low end Android devices. We need to communicate more on this.

Q. What is your overall market share in India and globally? How many active users do you have?

A. The number of Opera monthly active users in India is over 70 million and over 350 million worldwide.

Q. What are your current marketing strategies to stay in the lead?

A.  The product itself is a key contributor for us to stay in the lead. We keep upgrading our browsers with new features to facilitate a faster and engaging mobile internet experience. We are also looking into various distribution channels to make Opera Mini browser more visible to smartphone users in India.

Q. Any new products that users can expect to launch this year?

A. We are implementing AI technology inside our browser to facilitate a more engaging browsing experience. The browser will serve as the entry point for their internet experience while maintaining data savings of up to 90%.

Q.  Where do you see Opera Mini a few years down the line?

A. We consider all our products compelling and cater to different needs. Opera Mini gives a great edge in terms of speed and cost effective browsing experience by leveraging our data compression technology and providing relevant localized content channels: such as Opera Cricket. Keeping the requirements of Indian users in mind, it supports nine Indian languages in its user interface and provides news content in Hindi and Tamil. We feel the company will witness more users for Opera Mini in the next 2-3 years.

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