I don’t think it is much of a secret that Mozilla (the company behind Firefox) depends on Google to a very large degree for its own existance.
Google pays Mozilla a big (yet, undisclosed) sum of money to keep Google as the default search engine in the Firefox browser. Without that revenue, Mozilla probably wouldn’t be here today. In 2011, Google accounted for 84% of Mozilla’s revenue. Yikes.
The contract between them was nearing expiration and this spurred a lot of speculation on whether Google would simply let the deal lapse. After all, Google has Chrome now. Firefox has been decreasing in market share for some time now. If Google walked away from Mozilla, Firefox would probably simply die.
But, alas, Google and Mozilla have inked a new deal. Again, the financial terms are being kept close to the vest, however the new deal is to extend for 3 more years. At which point – who knows?
In November, Firefox still had 38.1% of the browser market while Chrome had 33.4%. Internet Explorer is in the low 20′s now. Statistically, the rapid growth of Chrome is stealing users almost evenly from IE and Firefox. (Source: W3Schools)
I think Google kept the Firefox deal going so as not to rock the boat too much. It would probably generate some negative press for Google. Plus, it could also spark anti-competition complaints (which is a ridiculous argument, but it won’t keep people from making it).
It also keeps Google in front of the majority of the browser public. Between Chrome and Firefox, that’s about 71.5% of the browsing public that is using Google by default (and most people don’t bother to change their default search engine. Does anybody really use Bing, anyway?)
In the meantime, if I were Mozilla, I would seriously be looking to restructure things so as not to be so dependent on Google. The writing is on the wall. Depending on one of your primary browser competitors to be your sugar momma isn’t exactly a great business arrangement to be in. At some point, Google is going to walk from this. They have very little reason not to – especially as Firefox loses relevancy.
Firefox is still a big player in the browser wars. But, how long that will continue, who knows. Remember Netscape?
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