Opera hits 300m users: Celebrates with WebKit/Chromium adoption

Browser developer Opera has passed the 300m monthly users mark, celebrating the milestone by transitioning to WebKit for its Android and iOS apps, with the first open-source contributions already apparently made. The shift to WebKit, away from Opera's home-grown browser engine, will begin this year, though the roadmap is described as "gradual"; it'll get its first public preview, meanwhile, at Mobile World Congress at the end of February.

For Opera, the change in underlying platform is because "it makes more sense" to work in collaboration with existing open source projects, CTO Håkon Wium Lie said today. "Opera will contribute to the WebKit and Chromium projects, and we have already submitted our first set of patches: to improve multi-column layout."

The first stage of the process has already, in fact, been teased. Opera ICE, shown last month, is a minimalist app that pares back browsing to the bare minimum, with advantages in speed and simpler navigation. Described as an R&D project by Opera, ICE will be further detailed "in the future" the company says, though its immediate attention is on more market-ready products, such as the Android app.

As well as WebKit for the mobile portfolio, Opera will adopt Chromium – the open-source engine which powers Google's Chrome browser – for its desktop software. There's no word on when, exactly, the first fruits of the software switch-over will be released publicly.