The browser wars have pretty much been featuring main players such as Internet Explorer, Firefox, and Google Chrome. But we cannot discount other players, especially in specific parts of the world. And when it comes to Belarus, it is Opera that reigns.
Bela-what? Seriously, you should have paid more attention to your geography class. Or watch worthwhile news and documentary programs if you wish…Belarus is a country in Eastern Europe which sits right smack in the middle of Russia, Ukraine, Poland, Lithuania, and Latvia.
In the past week, news about how popular Opera in Belarus has been going around. I suppose the mainstream online publications are amused to hear about Opera being number on in a country. After all, how many people do you know use Opera these days?
This is for real, not one of those jokes that tend to go around online. StatCounter provides some percentages in Belarus for the month of October.
We can go on and on and make theories as to why the Norwegian browser is much loved in an Eastern European country. I am sure that with enough time, someone can make a connection there somewhere.
We’ll just go with something that has been “proven”. Tim Fernholz at Quartz spoke to a web developer and designer based in Minsk (the capital of Belarus), and it looks like Opera’s success can be attributed to one thing: socialism.
Seriously. Basically, the socialist country had – has – pretty bad Internet infrastructure, and we can only assume that this was much worse in the past years. As a result, Internet users wanted – nay, needed – a browser that is as fast as possible. No bells and whistles. Just plain speed.
And that’s what Opera offered: the capability to strip images and other extra features that devour bandwidth like a starving lumberjack eats his steak.
While the other players were vigorously upping the game with features and extras, the Opera guys stripped down to the bare essentials. And it worked for them. At least in Belarus.