A report claiming Facebook could be ready to take over browser company Opera, suggests the social network is set to create its own browser.
A "trusted source" has told website Pocket-lint that Facebook is looking to purchase Opera Software, the company behind the desktop, tablet and smartphone browser Opera.
If this is true, then Facebook could find itself with a ready-built browser to take on the likes of Google, Microsoft and Mozilla - and even Yahoo which launched its Axis browser this week.
Opera is declining to comment on the speculation, however another website, The Next Web, is citing a source at Opera Software who claims that the company is currently in talks with potential buyers. The company is listed on the Oslo Stock Exchange, but according to the source, the company's leadership is considering becoming part of a larger privately-held or public company rather than trying to keep growing the business independently.
The source did not confirm or deny whether Facebook was among the potential suitors, but added that it "would make sense."
The source also said that there is currently a recruitment freeze in place at Opera which suggests that a major shake-up could be around the corner.
The Opera browser is available on a large variety of platforms from desktop (Mac, Linux and Windows) to tablets and smartphones (Android, BlackBerry, Windows Mobile) as well as a host of feature phones based on Symbian. However it is not available on iPhone or iPad which could be a sticking point for Facebook.
Opera claims to have 270 million monthly users worldwide and is expected to post £32bn in revenue for Q2 2012. It's market capitalisation is currently around £430m.
While this would make it a major purchase for Facebook, following the social networks' highly criticized IPO last week, it has an extra $16bn floating around waiting to be spent. And considering it spent $1bn on Instagram which returns no profit, then buying Opera would seem like a pretty good idea.
Facebook currently makes no money off its mobile apps, as it doesn't place any ads on them. Consideing more than half of its users access the site via mobile devcies, this is a worry for investors. Owning its own browser could allow Facebook to potentially monetise its mobile offering, as well as collecting a vast amount of data about users, even when they are not using Facebook.
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