Facebook Browser Coming Soon? Company Reportedly in Talks to Buy Opera

Facebook is reportedly close to buying out cash-strapped Opera Software. If the rumor proves to be true, it could completely change the direction of the browser market.

According to the technology blog Pocket-lint, Facebook has been meeting with Oslo, Norway-based Opera to discuss buying out the browser company. Although it did not name its sources, stating only that they were trustworthy, Pocket-lint says that the purchase would result in the construction of a Facebook browser that “would allow you keep up to date with your social life from in-built plug-ins and features on the menu bar.”

Facebook refused to comment on the rumor, while Opera Software told PCMag that it “does not respond to market rumors and we have no comment to the rumor addressed in the question.”

But a buyout does make sense. Recently The Next Web blog reported that its sources (also unnamed) had indicated that the Oslo firm was under a hiring freeze and that the company was exploring potential buyers.

The Next Web indicated that Opera Software is no longer interested in navigating the difficult browser market, suggesting it’s given up on competing with the likes of Google, Microsoft, Mozilla, and most recently Yahoo (which released its own browser tool, Axis, last week). Instead, it appears Opera wants to continue on as part of a much larger firm that can provide the kind of capital the Norwegian company needs to compete with the big boys.

But Facebook would also greatly benefit from the acquisition of Opera. Although it’s struggling right now, the firm has much experience building browsers for desktops, laptops and mobile devices like tablet computers and smartphones. It’s estimated that approximately 270 million people worldwide use Opera on a regular basis.

Facebook certainly appears to be in the shopping mood. Last month it bought up photo-sharing service Instagram for a whopping $1 billion. It then hired the developers of the Lightbox Android photo application and acquired 750 patents from IBM.

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