(AP) -- Norway's Opera Software ASA on Tuesday launched a new feature for its Internet browser allowing users to share photos, music and files directly with one another, without needing to go through outside services such as Facebook and Flickr.
The company said its Opera Unite service can also be used to access personal files stored on a home computer from a laptop, office computer or a mobile phone. Unlike traditional Web services, the files are never stored on any external servers, but move directly from one computer to another.
The Opera browser was once a strong alternative to Microsoft Corp.'s Internet Explorer and Time Warner Inc.'s Netscape. But its relative usage has diminished with the rise of Netscape's successor, Mozilla's Firefox, despite Opera's knack for innovation and the company's decision in 2005 to drop a $39 fee for an ad-free version.
Tony Cripps, a senior analyst at London-based software consultancy Ovum, said the new feature was "an interesting concept" that could pave the way for similar inventions by other Internet browsers. But he said Opera's share of the browser market was too small for it to have any larger impact on Internet behavior.
Opera Software spokesman Tor Odland said Opera would like to see the application as a tool that gives users back the control of their content from social-networking sites, such as Facebook and photo-sharing site Flickr from Yahoo Inc.
People who use outside services are subject to their rules, some of which restrict what they can post and may even require users to give up some of their ownership rights.
He said users can choose files from their computers to make available through the browser. The files can be made available to all Internet users through a Web link or be limited to friends with a password. Users can also create groups for sharing files.
Cripps noted there may be some security and legal issues with the application.
"It does have the potential to enable some sort of illegal file-sharing," he said. "It would be quite difficult to monitor traffic between these stations."
Odland said Opera encourages users to only share files to which they own the rights.
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