Yo, you called? :-P
Popular does not necessarily equate to good - look at VHS.
Thing is, though, that Opera has been around a LONG ol' time, fanbois often claim it "innovates" new features (which is usually true, at least on the x86 platform, though tabbed browsing came from an Amiga browser). Yet, despite this heritage and despite people saying how good it is, it is struggling to gain market share. In fact, according to one source, its popularity has gone DOWN (started 2008 at 1.4%, peaked at 2.4% end of 2008, now at 2.1% in Feb 2010 (after 2.2% in Jan 2010)). [source: http://www.w3schools.com/browsers/browsers_stats.asp; pretty much ditto at: http://www.w3counter.com/globalstats.php ]
I think it is shown best in the lower picture here [ http://www.webdevelopersnotes.com/articles/windows_browser_statistics.php ] which shows, as mentioned, a small DECREASE in Opera market share, compared with a rather more impressive take-up of Chrome.
Why. Why is Opera not gaining ground, yet everything else IS? (we don't count IE, nobody gives a crap about IE any more <g>)
As you say, popular does not equate to good, but then again something that never seems to take off... kinda suggests it has its own problems somewhere...?
BTW, FWIW, I refered to OperaMini as it is my browser of choice for the older generation of smartphones (i.e. the ones too old or clunky to hack a real OS with a real browser). My own phone is a Nokia 6230i and my OperaMini is v4.2. I know a number of people with similar types of phones, and I've put OperaMini on several of them, it usually beats the naff attempts by the manufacturers! However, doesn't it stand to reason that if we know of Opera on our phones, we might consider it for our computers?
Strange. I've not seen one single Chrome advert, but I'm getting kinda bored of the IE8 "say as much as possible in very few seconds" one.