Opera and Firefox are both excellent browsers. I've been using Opera(Lite) for a long time, and back in it's early history when Firefox was young, it was far ahead of Firefox in quality in my opinion. It used to cost quite a bit of money, maybe $100USD I'm not sure.Yet, there's no denying that so far, Opera has lost the battle for being the rising star browser. Statistics show a mere handful of dedicated users use Opera, hardly more than other alternatives, while Firefox takes up the bulk of non- IE browsers. What went wrong? Can we learn anything from Opera's lack of success? They have an excellent product, yet they never exploded in popularity like Firefox.I think it has to do with their proprietary nature. They aren't open source like Firefox, and the ability to customize it is limited. I know that I stick with Firefox now almost entirely because of the 3rd party extensions. I think they shot themselves in the foot by keeping their code so private. It's much faster than Firefox, but people like open source even if it isn't as good. Plus, it's the "programmers/tweakers" who are more dedicated to software, and advertising it. They are the ones who would gladly boast their support for a web browser on their website or a t-shirt. Opera needed to impress that group of people.
Apart from many other reasons like open source, security etc... the main reason for FireFox's success is advertising. FireFox developers are doing a great job in promoting their product. When they have a next major release most websites are displaying FireFox's banner. They made FireFox very very popular, most non technical people are believing that FireFox is the only alternative to IE. Opera team is not trying to promote their browser in this way...And the next major thing is its extensions. I am using FireFox only because of these extensions... opera lost here too...FireFox's development is very fast.. when they found a bug, they immediately release a fix. But Opera team is taking long time to release its updates... Still Opera is my favourite because of its speed in displaying a page, and many other inbuilt features...but I need some extensions of FF, so I'm using FireFox as main browser now...just like you...
For starters, as other posters have said, advertising is a major issue. Opera, while a top notch browser, has not had quite the publicity that Firefox has. Also, Opera doesn't sound as cool as Firefox. I know that sounds trivial and stupid, but it's true; having a cool name and logo has certainly been an asset to Firefox. Opera also, while currently free, hasn't always been that way, and so when Opera was in its early stages, it didn't pick up that critical dedicated userbase that it needed. Because of all this, despite the fact that Opera is comparable in terms of quality to Firefox, it just doesn't have the same momentum. Chrome is already passing Opera in terms of usage, because they've done a good job of advertising and started off free. They had a video contest, and even got advertised on Youtube's front page.
I agree with the advertising part. Firefox has been advertised brilliantly and I have rarely heard anything regarding Opera in a long time. I know Nintendo uses Opera browsers for both the DS and Nintendo Wii, but besides that I don't of many other advertising venues they have. Also, with the new and improved addons and such that are coming out for Firefox, I think it is really hard for anybody to compete against them at this time. And who would really want to anyway?
Same thing. Firefox has a lot of marketing support. First it being as an open source, many websites, bloggers display them on their websites. Articles are written on addons about how useful these addons are. Also, there are many young volunteers led by some active leaders at spreadfirefox and ning community. These volunteers help mass install firefox in institutions and help general PC users about the usability of the browser.