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Why Google Needs Firefox 182

Posted by Soulskill
from the why-can't-i-quit-you dept.
MrSeb writes "Almost the entirety of Mozilla's income — 97% of $104 million — arrives in the form of royalties from the Firefox search box, and the lion's share (86%, $85 million) of those royalties are paid by the default search engine: Google. In November 2011, however, Mozilla's contract with Google will expire. Will Google renew it? A better question to ask, though, is whether Mozilla wants Google as its primary search engine."
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Why Google Needs Firefox

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  • But if the exec want to keep drawing ridiculous salaries while they run Netscape errr Mozilla into the ground again, than they'll keep on talking Googles money just like Netscape did before them with their other partners.

    Who else is going to give them money? Won't be Microsoft ... and by extension that means it won't be Yahoo.

    • by mcvos (645701)

      Why wouldn't it be MS? Have you read the article? It makes a pretty good case for why it would be Microsoft.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 12, 2011 @09:09AM (#37067266)
        I agree with the basic premise in the article about the advantage of using MS, but only for a short term gain. the folks in Redmond would make a good short term partner but lack the basic scruples to avoid turning around and biting Firefox hard once it is to their advantage. The folks at Firefox will go down that road at their own peril. Too many people have cut deals with MS only to eventually regret it. History matters.
        • by zget (2395308)
          What short term gain? Microsoft is interested to gain more visitor (and hence user data that they can use to improve Bing's search algorithms) and Firefox is interested to get revenue from its users. The deal doesn't need to be anything else than Microsoft paying certain percent (lets say 70%) from the ad clicks that Firefox users generate. In fact, there's already similar programs for the Bing toolbar (and Google toolbar too), but they usually pay $1 one time payment per user. With the traffic Firefox can
          • Microsoft has changed? Maybe I'm just going blind, but I don't see it. Had you claimed that they had toned things down, and acted less like a blood crazed shark in chum waters than they used to, I might agree. But real change? No - they are still predators. Get into their sights, and they're still coming after you, albeit, without the berserk feeding frenzy.

        • by artor3 (1344997)

          Given that this whole discussion is predicated on the assumption that Google is about to turn on Mozilla, MS can't be any worse.

          • by Svartalf (2997)

            Actually, Google is about to turn on Mozilla. Microsoft WILL turn on them...it's not an "if" like it currently still is with Google..it's a solid "when".

      • There's something very slippery about the article, almost like it's AstroTurf 2.0. Stay with me mods, it's at least an intelligent article.

        Mozilla is at least a decent entrant into the OSS world. There's always nitpicks, but they're pretty solid. Mozilla makes a browser first.

        Google is doing Search first and only lately is doing a browser. Does Google want Chrome to be the dominant browser, the same trick MS pulled last time? Maybe. I've seen my share of "FF is old and tired, go Chrome". Hard to tell if any

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Why wouldn't it be MS? Have you read the article? It makes a pretty good case for why it would be Microsoft.

        I read the article but I didn't see it make any case at all. There seemed to be a vague implication that Microsoft might think that even though users of Internet Explorer (still the browser with the largest market share) overwhelmingly use Google rather than its default of Bing, that users of Firefox would blindly use whatever the default is and that therefore Microsoft would shovel money at Firefox to get that default status. But there was no explanation at all of why Firefox users wouldn't just keep using

      • Then there would be a good case for me never touching Firefox again.
    • From what I'm seeing, the relationship with Microsoft right now is one of friendly rivalry. Mozilla and Microsoft generally work together on the W3C, and Microsoft themselves are making a concerted effort to ensure their stuff works well in Firefox - something they're emphatically not doing with Chrome (for example, Outlook Web Access works just like the desktop app in Firefox and IE, but has to be run in a stripped down mode looking more like standard web mail in any other browsers.)

      I think it's extreme

      • I dunno. I think that I'd use Mozilla a lot less if Mozilla and Microsoft were having conjugal relations. Just how much market share MIGHT Mozilla lose in the deal?

      • by asa (33102) <asa@mozilla.com> on Friday August 12, 2011 @04:00PM (#37073052) Homepage

        It's a positive development. Personally, I'd be more than happy to see Microsoft sponsor Mozilla. And while I'm sure it'd be a shock to many on Slashdot, I suspect the only thing blocking it is Google's wallet.

        That's a mis-understanding of how Mozilla works. We don't sell our search to the highest bidder. We want to provide the best possible experience for our users while making the Web a safer, more competitive, and healthier place to live and do work.

        In Russia, for example, Google is an also-ran and so Firefox ships Yandex as the default search service. This is not because Yandex outbid Google -- there was never a bidding opportunity, but because Mozilla believes that Yandex is the best choice today for Firefox users in Russia.

        Bing is an increasingly good search service in the US and as a result of their improvements, we added Bing to Firefox 4's built-in list of search services. We didn't do that because Microsoft outbid other people on that list. We did it because Bing is a useful search service for many US users. It turns out that Bing is not doing as well in the rest of the world, so where it's not useful to our users, we don't included Bing.

        - A

    • by dadioflex (854298)
      What exactly do Mozilla do with 100 million dollars of tax-free revenue? I'm not trying to be a dick, I'm just curious about the numbers How many people do they employ? Are they building a war chest? That'd be 500 full time employees at 100k per year with 50 million left over in case of emergencies. Again, I'm not knocking them - I'm a very happy Firefox/Thunderbird/Lightning user.
      • by jesser (77961)

        What exactly do Mozilla do with 100 million dollars of tax-free revenue?

        The first thing we do with it is to pay taxes [wikipedia.org]. It was not trivial for us to figure out how to do that.

        Are they building a war chest?

        You can get a sense of how much we're saving by reading financial reports from previous years [mozilla.org]. To some extent, we're saving not because we want to save, but because we can only hire people so fast while maintaining quality and culture.

        That'd be 500 full time employees at 100k per year with 50 million left o

  • ...is a whole lot of hits. Even if Google wanted Chrome to dominate, I still don't think they'd want to let all of Firefox users who use whatever's in the search bar out of convenience leave for another engine.

    Of course, the article makes this pretty clear, but why ruin the Slashdot tradition and publish a descriptive, non-flamebait summary?

    • by Idbar (1034346) on Friday August 12, 2011 @09:17AM (#37067342)
      Hey, if by this time you haven't realized that articles starring with the word "why" on the title are very poor and read them with care or just ignore them, you need to keep "learning slashdot".
  • I wonder whether there will be any vigorous progress without those cash infusions from uncle Google. Also taking the Chrome push into account I would not be surprised that the search box contract is not renewed, lets face it, why would Google want to pay and support a direct competitor?
    • by Skuto (171945)

      The article explains why.

    • by BBird (664014) on Friday August 12, 2011 @09:21AM (#37067402)

      Mozilla is not a competitor. Google does not sell browsers, it sells ads, and mozilla is one more channel.

      • by Svartalf (2997)

        Mozilla is a competitor. Google does effectively sell browsers, it sells ads, but Mozilla is merely a channel.

        FTFY. Chrome [http] nukes that supposition that you just made. Combine that with Chromebook [google.com] and there's nothing at all accurate in your claims.

        • How does that nuke his supposition? Google doesn't sell Chrome, it distributes Chrome without charge -- sometimes it even pays organisations to distribute Chrome. I don't know whether it profits from Chromebook sales, so I'll let that point slide for now.

          But Google isn't obviously getting anything out of a person using Chrome rather than Firefox. Dig a bit deeper and maybe they can pick up user habits and data for advertising from Chrome, but that's exactly an argument to do what they can to remain Firef

  • by ibwolf (126465) on Friday August 12, 2011 @09:09AM (#37067264)

    For $85 million — or whatever Mozilla decides to charge, because it could charge almost anything — Bing could bolster its global share to 10, 15, or maybe 20%.

    What absolute nonsense. Bing is already the default search engine on IE and only a fraction of IE users are using Bing. To assume that all Firefox users would meekly follow Mozilla's direction to use Bing is absurd.

    • by Skuto (171945)

      To assume that all Firefox users would meekly follow Mozilla's direction to use Bing is absurd.

      Yes, it's absurd, which is exactly why the line you quote does *not* make that assumption.

    • by twocows (1216842)
      Care to cite some statistics? Most of my tech illiterate co-workers using default IE end up using Bing. I think it's fair to say that, while not all of Firefox's users would switch to Bing, there would be a fair portion who would either give Bing a chance or not bother switching (especially the ones who can't tell the difference).
    • Well for most IE users they don't even use that search bar. They will click on a shortcut to google then type in the search box something like www.yahoo.com. For firefox users I think their head will explode if the search box went to Bing.

      Is there really that much hatred of the both just because both have browsers. In normal business it is very common for companies to Partner with each other and Compete with each other at the same time. And their Partnership is very strong with a lot of good MBA Buzzword

    • by LWATCDR (28044)

      Not as much nonsense as you think. Bing from what I hear doesn't suck it is also pretty. If you are really into the Google ecosystem then you might not care. If you type a search and you get what you are looking for and it is pretty then a lot of people might not change back. If nothing else it will get people to try Bing.
      I know that people on Slashdot really don't like Microsoft and that includes me. From what I see Bing is actually a pretty good search engine. Since I use everything Google including my ph

  • From TFA:

    Back in 2003 when Mozilla and Firefox first emerged, Microsoft’s Internet Explorer owned 95% of the browser market. Mozilla single-handedly destroyed IE over the next five years

    That's a bit of an overstatement I think. Keeping in mind the "guesstimate" nature of browser market share, the usage trends for both IE and FF (mutant Mozilla) [wikipedia.org] are probably not so much the results of direct competition as they are simply the predictable result of the market "maturing" as the executive types say.

    IE probably went downwards b/c there is actually a lot more competition now in terms of OS and platform; it's not all desktops on desks running XP.

  • The purpose of Chrome isn't to make money or even to be the most popular browser. The purpose of Chrome is to advance technologies to promote standards to encourage the creation and usage of web applications as part of Google's war against Windows applications and now iOS applications.

    Mozilla is also a big promoter of web standards and is a big part of Google's war.

    While Microsoft could use Firefox to help Bing, Google needs Firefox even more to help the entire company.

    • by jopsen (885607)
      I think you're right... Without Chrome javascript would still be slow and browsers wouldn't be so clean as they are today... Chrome paved the way for better web applications, and without it the web application platform wouldn't be as attractive.
      • by Skuto (171945)

        Without Chrome javascript would still be slow

        Jeez, Google's advertising campaigns sure do work. JavaScript performance wars were pretty hot years before Chrome appeared.

    • The purpose of Chrome isn't to make money or even to be the most popular browser

      The purpose of a business is to turn a profit. Without profit, a business starts dying. Everything, including odd-ball projects and products, is geared towards supporting the business model of turning a profit.

      To think otherwise is embarrassingly naive.

  • Without Firefox think of all extra advertising dollars they would make without NoScript/Adblock or other ad blocking plugins that Firefox offers. The bottom line is that Google is using Firefox as a way to keep the "do no evil" drones in line.

    Mod me down but it's the exact thing Microsoft and Apple do only to a different target audience.
    • Except that there's an Adblock Plus extension for Chrome too...
      • by cornface (900179)

        But no decent equivalent to NoScript, which is arguably more important for privacy concerns. It is mind-boggling the number of useless third party javascript that exists on most pages.

        Even if you just take Google into account, they have their finger in a huge percentage of sites either through hosted javascript libraries (jquery especially), ads, analytics, maps, etc.

        It is sort of ridiculous.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by rbayer (1911926)

        But it's nowhere near as effective as the Firefox version. Last I checked, the Chrome version couldn't block those annoying ads that play at the start of some video clips, whereas with Firefox I didn't even know such things existed.

  • So it can pursue its 'new version every month' policy
    and break all the add-ons

    • by Lifyre (960576)

      Is it every month? Seems like they try to update me every other week or so... I'm slowly migrating over to Chrome because of the hassles it causes.

  • I saw a link, but can't find it where a user recommended a search engine similiar to Google's but is not prone to SEO, fake reviews, and other sleezy techniques that make Google less efficient than 10 years ago. Anyone know the name of it?

    10 years ago you could find anything with Google without people trying to sell you crap and it was always accurate. Remember those days?

    Anyway, a browser is free but advertisement is where it can make some money and I think Mozilla should hook up with that search engine or

  • I really hope not (Score:4, Insightful)

    by AmiMoJo (196126) <mojoNO@SPAMworld3.net> on Friday August 12, 2011 @09:41AM (#37067616) Homepage

    Cutting off funding could be the best thing for Firefox. They would have to get rid of all the UI designers and tech evangelists who are slowly destroying Firefox. It would go back to being community driven with a focus on producing a really good app instead of playing buzzword bingo and copying Chrome.

    Fingers crossed.

    • by Tridus (79566)

      Oh but then we couldn't have Asa telling us why enterprise users are bad and we really want a new version every 6 weeks even if all we get out of it is a shittastic looking UI in Windows 7. (And that's generous compared to the disaster that is the new Thunderbird UI.)

      I'm with you. Mozilla needs to clean house and get back to what they were doing when Firefox was growing: making a better browser for users.

    • by Skuto (171945)

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Usage_share_of_web_browsers [wikipedia.org]

      Community driven browsers (without corporate backing) seem to be doing great, eh? The internet is big cutthroat business, these aren't the Phoenix days any more.

  • by Lehk228 (705449)
    Article implies bing does not suck

    article is wrong
  • A better question to ask, though, is whether Mozilla wants Google as its primary search engine..
    Well the math seems obvious to me, they receive $100.8 million from Google (97%) and there's no other entity that is going to step up and pay them so what do you think?

    It's in Google's best interest to kill off the relationship because of gaining higher Chrome market share. Is that "evil"? No, it's business.
  • by FudRucker (866063) on Friday August 12, 2011 @09:51AM (#37067722)
    the last couple of years the search engine department has been getting sloppy, allowing content farms looking for click through revenue spamming the hell out of the search hierarchy. it is high time google update and refine their search engine filters because lately the crap i have to wade through to find what i am looking for is getting deep...

    oh, and i like both firefox and seamonkey so i will be willing to abandon google before i abandon mozilla's firefox and the open source community developed seamonkey
    • Just install another search engine as the default, like ixquick.
      • by AlXtreme (223728)

        Doing so hurts mozilla. userdefined search engines dont pay the bills.

        I think mozilla could have used those $85m to fund a search engine of their own, that would avoid their reliance on google and make a much better investment than all those UI designers who keep breaking firefox.

  • by GrumpySteen (1250194) on Friday August 12, 2011 @09:53AM (#37067734)

    "It is speculated, mostly by tech pundits, that considering the sheer amount of effort that itâ(TM)s putting into shoving Chrome down our throats, it would not be in Googleâ(TM)s best interests to re-sign with Mozilla."

    Most of Google's revenue comes from advertising, not Chrome. To ensure that revenue, they need to remain the number one search engine. To that end, it is in Google's best interest to remain the default search engine on Firefox as long as Firefox has any significant market share, regardless of Chrome's market share.

    • Re: (Score:2, Flamebait)

      by Raenex (947668)

      Article overlooks the stupidly obvious

      No, the article didn't overlook the stupidly obvious, you did, because you failed to read the next paragraph:

      "While it's true that Mozilla strongly relies on Google's royalties, don't forget that Google is completely reliant on search traffic"

      and later:

      "In all likelihood, Firefox is probably the cheapest source of traffic that Google has."

      and:

      "If Google fails to renew its contract with Mozilla, do you think that Microsoft would blink an eye at spending $85 million for the majority share of Firefox's 450 mil

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by swillden (191260)

      "It is speculated, mostly by tech pundits, that considering the sheer amount of effort that itâ(TM)s putting into shoving Chrome down our throats, it would not be in Googleâ(TM)s best interests to re-sign with Mozilla."

      Most of Google's revenue comes from advertising, not Chrome. To ensure that revenue, they need to remain the number one search engine. To that end, it is in Google's best interest to remain the default search engine on Firefox as long as Firefox has any significant market share, regardless of Chrome's market share.

      "It is speculated, mostly by tech pundits, that considering the sheer amount of effort that itâ(TM)s putting into shoving Chrome down our throats, it would not be in Googleâ(TM)s best interests to re-sign with Mozilla."

      Most of Google's revenue comes from advertising, not Chrome. To ensure that revenue, they need to remain the number one search engine. To that end, it is in Google's best interest to remain the default search engine on Firefox as long as Firefox has any significant market share, regardless of Chrome's market share.

      Another, slightly less obvious but equally important oversight/misunderstanding is Google's goals for Chrome. The article assumes that Google wants Chrome to displace Firefox and believes that not paying Mozilla would further that goal. But that's not what Chrome is for. Google has publicly stated on many occasions that their intent with Chrome is not to make it the universal browser, but to create competition. Not because the browser market lacked competition, but because the browser makers were not co

  • by boyfaceddog (788041) on Friday August 12, 2011 @09:55AM (#37067750) Journal
    Normal, rational view: "Sign them up NOW. This product is a gold mine and it doesn't cost us anything. Now if you'll excuse me I'm going to go swim in all of our money." Corporate Board-Room view: "Mozilla accounts for most of our profits. That means they are taking internet share away from OUR browser. Cut these guys off at the knees!" Gosh, I'm vexed as to which way Google will go. Yep, that's a puzzler. /sarcasm
  • "Why Firefox Needs Bing"

    I'll be honest, Google is in the dominant position, and I'll never use Bing. But, Microsoft is throwing money at search like there is no tomorrow (because for them, there may not be if they have no virtual real estate). Microsoft would probably be willing to up the offer of money. Even with their rivalry, they know good and well Chrome is a bigger rival to IE. If nothing else, Firefox could force a much better contract with Google with a high Bing offer.

    That's just smart business

  • They both do good on the web, they both try to offer better solutions then MS could ever bring, they bring competitive edge, they are both companies that started off by providing free services, and now built a cult following, becoming a brand house hold name. They would be crazy no to stay together...sort of like ross and rachel!...just wondering who is the guy and who is the girl...maybe the fox is the gurl?

  • So follow me here: Assume (fairly, I think) that MS would pay a lot more than Google is paying now for Mozilla search results. They might make an offer to Firefox to make Bing their default search, offering them substantial money for this. But now it gets interesting: If Firefox takes that big pile of money, they will use it to improve Firefox, which will make IE's work harder. But: MS also knows that if it made any offer to the Mozilla foundation to change the defaults, Google would match that in an effort
  • Whether or not it would result in an Anti-trust judgement down the road, I don't think Google is in a position to deny Firefox as a customer.

    The DOJ has Google under the gun right now, and they would be wise not to do anything stupid. Using their monopoly in search to hurt a broswer competitor would be considered anti-competitive by quite a few experts.

  • $86M seems like chump change. I'm surprised that MS hasn't bid up the value of that real estate, except that they would have to eat crow to support an OSS browser. But I'd think that they'd make that $86M pretty fast back if they could redirect firefox to bing. Or at least make Google pay more for the privilege ;)

    Maybe MS doesn't want Mozilla to have more financial resources, even if it would mean costing Google more money?

    And btw, who accounts for the other $19M of royalty for that real estate?

  • Discarding Google will make them disappear.

    Problem is, there still isn't any good web browser.

  • That is a LOT of cash. I'm surprised most linux distros don't negotiate their own deals with Google. They could charge Google to keep their default browser setting in Firefox (or for that matter Chrome), for example, or charge Bing to switch it. Granted, the volume for linux will be lower than for windows, but I imagine that quite a few people still install firefox/chrome/etc.

    Now, the trademarks could become an issue. A way around that is to patch in the change post-install so that the distro doesn't ac

  • ... why Mozilla has not made a social semantic desktop with all that vast amount of money. No search engine advertising revenues?
    http://semanticweb.org/wiki/Semantic_Desktop [semanticweb.org]
    "The Internet, electronic mail, and the Web have revolutionized the way we communicate and collaborate - their mass adoption is one of the major technological success stories of the 20th century. We all are now much more connected, and in turn face new resulting problems: information overload caused by insufficient support

Given its constituency, the only thing I expect to be "open" about [the Open Software Foundation] is its mouth. -- John Gilmore

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