Opera, the plucky Norwegian web browser that’s a perennial fourth- or fifth-place finisher behind much larger players like Internet Explorer (s msft) and Firefox, has acquired web-based email provider FastMail.fm for an undisclosed sum. The Australian email company has been around for almost a decade, and has a reputation for being fast and dependable, but has been overshadowed in recent years by services such as Google’s (s goog) Gmail. Opera, which has its own email service built into its browser, clearly has ambitions to move beyond just browser-based mail to mobile and other platforms. The company said in a release that buying FastMail would enable it to “deliver cross-platform messaging to a wide range of devices, including computers, mobile phones, TVs and gaming consoles.”
FastMail, in explaining why it decided to accept the acquisition deal, told users in a note on its website that: “In an increasingly competitive market, we believe we need to make some big investments to take the next steps forward.” Users’ data will be moved over to Opera unless they cancel their account. FastMail also said that some of its staff will soon be moving to Opera headquarters in Norway, while one of its part-time developers who developed its photo gallery feature and new webmail interface will be working for Opera full time.
Opera recently announced that it has more than 50 million users of its desktop browser software as well as 50 million users of its mobile browser, and recently released an iPhone (s aapl) version — which has been downloaded by millions of users already, although Kevin wondered whether many of them are actually using it. Opera also acquired a mobile ad solutions company called AdMarvel in January for an estimated $23 million. And the company has been working on a version of its browser for interactive televisions, supporting a European standard called “hybrid broadcast broadband TV.”