NEW YORK — Microsoft and Opera Software announced a deal Thursday that will make Opera Mini the default browser on all Nokia Series 30+, Series 40, and Asha feature phones. Opera Mini will replace Nokia's Xpress browser, which now appears to be a casualty of the restructuring and layoffs that Microsoft enacted after it acquired Nokia's device business.
The partnership's long-term implications are unclear. Microsoft reportedly plans to leave the feature phone market within the next 18 months, and instead focus on smartphones. Given that Opera is unlikely to displace Internet Explorer as the default browser on Windows Phone devices, the deal appears to involve mostly short-term benefits.
For Opera, those benefits potentially include adding millions of new users to its existing base of a quarter billion Opera Mini users. According to Opera CEO Lars Boilsesen, whose company announced better-than-expected earnings on Thursday, the deal will be profitable from the start.
Microsoft, meanwhile, gets flexibility to realign resources while supporting existing Series 30+, Series 40, and Asha customers. Two thirds of the 18,000 layoffs Microsoft recently announced involve former Nokia employees. With so many jobs eliminated -- and most of those that remain focused on Windows Phone -- Microsoft likely didn't see the sense in continued Xpress development.
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