In the Summer of 2005 while I was working at Y!, I met with the CEO of Opera and got a preview of Opera Mini months before it was released (they were looking at partners). My advice to the execs, in very clear terms, was "Buy Opera", or at the minimum license it to the hilt and launch a super-branded mobile browser. A couple years later, it's nice to see that it would have been a great investment. Miker just pointed out that Opera mini's monthly page views passing through their servers have (like AdMobs ads) surpassed the 1 Billion mark as of July, with a total of almost 8 billion pages served so far.
Opera mini is still the best mobile browser hands down with tons of functionality, yet not requiring a smart phone. They keep adding features and making it better in every release - the newest beta launched today is their best yet. So great. But you know, since it looks like Google is using their own home-grown stuff for their phone and Yahoo! is sticking with their Go! initiative and partnering with Novarra, there doesn't seem to be many other worldwide portals out there that would be a great fit for Opera. So two thoughts:
1) Opera should now start taking advantage of the fact that they've built out this great mobile platform to launch more back-end services tied to mini to generate revenue from all those page views. I'm sure the search deals are generating cash, but shopping, banking, etc. would generate more. There's no reason for them to stay "just" a mobile browser company.
2) If MySpace or Facebook were smart, they'd figure out how to buy Opera as well. Instead of spending time and effort trying to create a custom client and/or optimized mobile pages, they could brand mini and exponentially accelerate their move to mobile overnight. To me its a no brainer for any web-based company really: From eBay to Amazon - any of them would benefit from owning a browser like mini and having essentially a monopoly in advanced mobile browsers for feature phones.
But you know, I don't do that strategy stuff any more, so who knows... :-)