Usually I protect Opera and point to its bright sides when somebody tries to insult my favorite browser, but with release of Opera 12 I can't help it but look at Opera from the other side.
In My Opera profile there is an question "Why did you choose Opera". I chose Opera +-6 years ago and the reasons back then were speed, community, standards support, innovation and customization. The question is, do all these reasons still stand? ...
The community has problems too. Recently, QuHno wrote an article about how lots of good developers and active My Opera members quietly disappeared. Not enough time to be an active member? Perhaps, but more likely they realized that life might be easier with another browser.
A few years ago Opera was one of the fastest browsers to implement new standards. When someone wanted to try new web technologies they used Opera. Implementing new standards (or not yet standards) has its issues because the standards often change but this is one of the places where it is advantage to have smaller user base. No one is going to use the new technologies in production until more browsers supports it. (Thumbs up for Camera support in Opera 12!)
Opera was the first browser to use many great desktop features. Tabs, Speed Dial, etc. Everyone saw Opera as browser that innovates. Not all projects were always successful (like Unite and Widgets - even though I really liked them) but that is to be expected. Unfortunately, lately Opera somehow stopped innovating. Last original interesting desktop feature was tab stacking and since then nothing much happened. Themes, for me, are mostly big disappointment as they are very buggy, slow and as many people points out - what normal users see is only changed background. Opera might surprise me and come up with something big for next Opera version. But with the feature removing (IRC, widgets, torrent, ...) I somehow don't believe that.
Lastly, the customization. One of the best things about Opera. It is possible to change position of all buttons, create our own buttons, hide and display panels. Change skin size. And happily it all still somehow manages to work even though Opera lately concetrate more on skin simplification. I should be probably glad that opera is not trying to improve the customization and in doing so somehow ruin it.
With all that happening Opera still has problems to fix ever lasting bugs. The worst are the Layout/Graphics related. It usually takes +-3 years for them to get fixed or they are not fixed at all. It might be that L/G developers are spending too much time with HWA, but if so then Opera needs to hire more people. Otherwise, other browsers will run far far away and opera might never catch them again.
I still love Opera and I will keep using it no matter what. All I wanted to say is - you can do better than that!