Opera Mini is fast losing mobile market share to Google Chrome in Africa

L.S.M Kabweza Avatar
Opera Mini, Econet

Not so long ago, Opera’s ultra-lightweight browser, Opera Mini, used to be the top mobile browser in Africa. Not anymore. The company has lost that top spot to Google’s Chrome.

According to renowned global analytics company, StatCounter, in September 2016 Opera Mini had 57% market share in Africa and Google Chrome had just 18%.

Now, a year later, Opera Mini’s September 2017 market share has shrunk to 32% and Google Chrome has grown to take the top spot at 37%.

Opera loses mobile browser marketshare to Chrome in Africa
Click for high res chart

The reason really is that Opera Mini was great in a world where feature phones were the most used phones to connect to the internet.

But as more Africans have migrated to smartphones, and these are becoming cheaper to buy, Google Chrome has become the default browser on mobile phones. It’s not just that it’s the default, Chrome also eventually got data saving features, making it just as good and even better in some cases. While Opera Mini has remained good, it’s not superior anymore. The competition has become good enough, and whichever app is installed by default wins.

It’s easy to think that Opera’s market share loss was inevitable as Android smartphones replaced feature phones. But the case of another feature-phone browser, UC Web, shows this may not be the case at all. While it hasn’t gained by much, UC Browser has been growing its market share – from 6% in September 2016 to 12% the same month a year later. But again this is a case of being the default. UC Browser comes installed on a lot of low-cost Chinese distributed smartphones which are popular in Africa.

For business targeting mobile web users, Opera’s shrinking market share is not bad news. Some may even be glad it’s finally happening. While Opera Mini is a great browser, it achieves its ultra-performance by stripping out a lot of the functionality that makes web pages useful today.

It’s worth noting that Opera Mini’s dominance was really an African thing. In Asia for example, Google Chrome has been the market leader in mobile browsers for a while now. In fact, Google Chrome has led worldwide for a long time.


  1. Richard Monday

    For Info 80% of Opera Mini users in Zimbabwe are using Android devices. We would be happy to talk to you so that your content is verified prior to publishing – Richard Monday, VP Africa, Opera Software

    1. L.S.M Kabweza

      Hey Richard,
      Thanks for the comment and the stats on Opera usage in Zimbabwe. I may not have been clear in the article that I’m actually not implying that Opera Mini is not used on Android phones. I use it on an Android phone myself. The point is that on an Android phone, Chrome with data saving has become good enough resulting in data saving becoming a ‘commodity feature’. Happy to engage more!

      1. richard monday

        Hi there, Thank you for using Opera Mini browser on your Android phone. We work hard on various advanced smartphone features on Opera Mini, such as AI news engine together with local publishers, video downloader, night mode, video compression, extreme mode to save up to 90% of data and more which you cannot find it on Chrome. We hope you like those features as well

        1. Hacha Ndizvo

          Disqus does not work on my Opera Mini and that’s the reason why I do not like Mini on my mobile.

          1. Basil

            Me too when l open my gmail account most features are not available like file attachemnt l had to switch to chrome… and with chrome most features are easly seen and easy to use

            Kudos to CHROME

  2. Anonymous

    Oh is it? I m still using Opera Mini and I have been using Google Chrome but surely I didn’t fell its data saving features

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