Cloud-based collaboration tools are becoming downright common. Yesterday I wrote about Adobe.com, a just-out-of-beta offering from Adobe, which joins similar solutions from Google, Microsoft, IBM, Oracle and Jive, among others.
Today Opera is putting an interesting new twist on collaboration, one that relies less on a cloud that must be accessed through third-party providers. Opera Unite essentially turns the Opera browser, which commands minuscule market share when compared with rivals Internet Explorer and Mozilla Firefox, into a Web server that can be used for file sharing and streaming, reports PC Magazine. This obviously opens up interesting possibilities for business, putting control and ownership of data more directly into companies' hands.
Thre are six Unite services, all of which will debut with the forthcoming release of Opera 10: file sharing, photo sharing, streaming audio, a whimsically-named "fridge" service for posting virtual "sticky notes," real-time chats and even self-hosted Web sites. (You can follow the link to download and try out the services, but several published reports indicate Opera's servers are getting slammed. It might be best to wait a day or two.)
Mashable's Stan Schroeder was impressed with Opera Unite when he tried it out, saying it "might turn out to be one of the most interesting online services launched this year" and will "definitely make Opera 10 a worthwhile install." (For those who love screen shots, Schroeder has one.) He does note that many of the features cannot function without Opera's servers, which "somewhat undermines the point of the entire service."
Of course, Opera Unite poses security concerns for businesses, which Lance Ulanoff details in a post on PC Magazine. He writes:
Unite lets users set permission levels for who can access their files, but one of these levels appears to be "completely open." That doesn't sound good. Ostensibly, you're sharing files with people you know, but I could envision someone setting up a link to their Opera Unite service that leads people to a file that's really malware.
Ulanoff wonders whether the services will even work behind corporate firewalls, since they must access open ports to facilitate communications between remote PCs and Opera Unite-enabled browsers.