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Mozilla and Google Sign New Agreement For Default Search 103

Posted by Soulskill
from the much-ado-about-nothing dept.
An anonymous reader writes "It appears Google will not cut their default search arrangement with Mozilla. From the official blog post: 'We're pleased to announce that we have negotiated a significant and mutually beneficial revenue agreement with Google. This new agreement extends our long term search relationship with Google for at least three additional years.'"
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Mozilla and Google Sign New Agreement For Default Search

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  • by Trepidity (597) <(gro.hsikcah) (ta) (todhsals-muiriled)> on Tuesday December 20, 2011 @03:35PM (#38439532)

    As a non-profit organization, don't these things eventually have to show up in Mozilla's annual filings? Or are they somehow aggregated together in an opaque way by the subsidiary relationship of the Mozilla Foundation vs. the Mozilla Corporation?

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by jgagnon (1663075)

      It's not like they need to report line items. They get their money from Google and this is the amount. What else do people need to know?

    • by Trepidity (597) <(gro.hsikcah) (ta) (todhsals-muiriled)> on Tuesday December 20, 2011 @03:45PM (#38439662)

      Answering my own question, it looks like it does more or less come out in the reports. Here [pdf] [mozilla.com] is their financial report for 2009-2010. It reports that they earned "royalties" of $101 million in 2009 and $121 million in 2010, and they explain their royalties as follows:

      The Corporation has a contract with a search engine provider for royalties which expires November 2011. Approximately 84% and 86% of royalty revenue for 2010 and 2009, respectively, was derived from this contract.

      So that seems to imply that "a search engine provider" paid them around $87 million in 2009, and $102 million in 2010. Of course, the current deal may be substantially higher or lower, but that's probably a ballpark figure. Somehow considerably higher than I expected, but now that I look it seems Mozilla has >600 employees, which is also many more than I expected.

      • Mozilla does a lot more than just make a web browser.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Not to be dense, but as someone who has used Firefox and even Thunderbird Sunbird/Lightning at times, what else do they do? The About us link I just looked at doesn't spoon feed it to me, so I don't even know what Drumbeat is after reading a hundred words...

          A real question, even if I am an AC.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Anonymous Coward

            Not to be dense, but as someone who has used Firefox and even Thunderbird Sunbird/Lightning at times, what else do they do? The About us link I just looked at doesn't spoon feed it to me, so I don't even know what Drumbeat is after reading a hundred words...

            A real question, even if I am an AC.

            I'd like to think that Mozilla is there to fight the good fight of freedom and openness on the web.

            Apart from FF/TB and whatnot, it would perhaps include doing some R&D and also lobbying/marketing for Freedom(TM) and Openness(TM)...

          • by Anonymous Coward

            Mozilla are a non-profit subsidiary of Google, designed to direct traffic to Google until Google's browser has reached sufficient marketshare.

            Chrome is approaching but not quite there.

          • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 20, 2011 @05:14PM (#38440982)

            Not to be dense, but as someone who has used Firefox and even Thunderbird Sunbird/Lightning at times, what else do they do?

            If with "they" you mean the Mozilla Foundation (which should be right, considering you're talking about drumbeat), then primarily what they do is try to be the lever in whatever project comes along which furthers the mission of advancing the Mozilla Manifesto [mozilla.org].

            Wow, that sounds very handwavy. Let's try again.

            The Mozilla Foundation is a non-profit foundation, consisting of just a handful of people. They fully own the Mozilla Corporation (which makes and promotes Firefox), and give it the goal of not just making the best browser possible, but to use this to help keep the internet open. This means the vast majority of work is being done by the Mozilla Corporation. What the Foundation focuses on besides this (with limited money and people, compared to the much larger size of the Corporation) are other ways to help make the web a richer and better platform; a more versatile platform, which has a better chance of staying open. The annual report [mozilla.org] lists focus areas like identity, apps, education, etc. These are areas where it doesn't always make immediate sense for the people who develop Firefox to focus on, but which are relevant in the bigger battle to keep the web the healthy open platform it is today. Drumbeat is one way in which the Foundation tries to find and fund projects (both with money, and by gathering interested people) that work within these focus areas.

            So yeah, basically what the Foundation does is try to take the long view on the web, trying to act as its protector. Where possible, it uses its most powerful tool, Firefox, to ward off threats to the openness of this platform (think of the very public stance on the next generation video codec for the web; without Firefox, everyone would have have to knuckle down to MPEG-LA and have to pay to publish H.264 video - now, there's a very good chance that video on the web will be open and unemcumbered). Where threats (or the solutions to them) are less clear, they get involved in conversations, try to incubate projects to explore options, and basically make people aware.

          • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 20, 2011 @06:05PM (#38441738)

            They do all sorts of things, most of them in concert with one or more communities (either Mozilla-centric or not).

            • B2G (Boot to Gecko), an early-stage OS primarly targetted at phones
            • Popcorn.js, a HTML5 Media framework
            • Do Not Track Header Initiative
            • BrowserID Project, an initiative/implementation of a way to reduce the burden of authentication on the web
            • Bugzilla, a bug tracking software used by a lot of folks
            • MDN (the Mozilla Developer Network), documenting their browser, but rapidly expanding to document the whole web platform
            • Develop/maintain the Mozilla websites all in the open (excepting the keys to their boxen, etc.)
            • They support Firebug, the browser debugger

            Plus all of the other things from localization to interacting with the standards bodies for HTML, CSS, JS, etc. to give feedback/help push the web platform in a good direction.

            I'm sure I left a million things out. They really do a whole lot, and anyone with the time and a bit of knowledge can dive in and help them with 99.9% of it.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        So that seems to imply that "a search engine provider" paid them around $87 million in 2009, and $102 million in 2010. Of course, the current deal may be substantially higher or lower, but that's probably a ballpark figure.

        It's not a fixed amount, it's revenue share from ad clicks. When Firefox user clicks any Google ads, Firefox also gains revenue. It's the same with Opera and other browsers. The only thing they need to negotiate is how high that percent is. Since Firefox market share has gone down, the amount Google pays them has as well.

      • by icebike (68054) *

        Answering my own question, it looks like it does more or less come out in the reports. Here [pdf] [mozilla.com] is their financial report for 2009-2010. It reports that they earned "royalties" of $101 million in 2009 and $121 million in 2010

        Its odd that this income would be lumped under royalties, because the definition of royalties usually implies the payment for the use of something owned by the payee. Such as income from book sales, etc. Mozilla also makes some income from the sale of various products on their web site, per that PDF.

        But assuming you are correct, and Revenues and other support represents the bulk of their income, it would appear that Google is paying for substantially ALL of the development for TWO browsers, Chrome, and Mo

        • by Trepidity (597)

          I believe it's structured as a commission-type deal, where they get a percentage of the AdWords revenue from ad-clicks on searches sent to Google by Firefox, which is a vaguely royalty-type arrangement.

          • by icebike (68054) *

            I believe it's structured as a commission-type deal, where they get a percentage of the AdWords revenue from ad-clicks on searches sent to Google by Firefox, which is a vaguely royalty-type arrangement.

            I see. A stretch, in my opinion, but a convenient one for both parties.

            Does MS make a royalty from a click in IE?

            Does Sears make a Royalty each time I pound a nail with my Craftsman Hammer?

            Its still an odd arrangement, but it prevents Google from making a purely arbitrary gift to Mozilla and
            allows Mozilla look like they are earning the money. Both ends may see value (tax wise) in such an
            arrangement. Google expenses it right off its income, Mozilla considers it earned income, and subtracts its expenses. P

            • What the hell? Google has no interest in gifting money to Firefox or anyone. They're both doing business.
        • by Mathinker (909784)

          it would appear that Google is paying for substantially ALL of the development for TWO browsers, Chrome, and Mozilla, as well as providing code for Chromium.

          And more power to them, for that. Whenever I think about a future time when (non-server) Linux has a large enough user base that it is a common target for malicious attacks, I wonder exactly how much I would benefit from jumping ship to a more fringe OS like Plan 9. It seems to me that to have the same level of usability, I'd be running ports of the sam

      • by arkenian (1560563)
        The secret is not, as you observed, the amount. But the precise terms. In basic, what Mozilla and google exchange is pretty well known, but the precise terms are I'm sure something they'd rather not confirm. (does google pay by the click, how much? by quota? etc. etc. etc. is all information that google's comptetitors (and, for that matter, other advertising partners) would like to know. Personally, I've always assumed that Google intentionally "overpaid" on the initial transaction to help out Mozilla
      • Google is keeping a lot of companies going 121 million to Firefox a year. They give AOL 600 million for 5 years for keyword searches. I am very impressed that Google would keep Firefox deal considering it's Chrome biggest threat. I think Google is trying to prevent a possible anti trust lawsuit.
        • by shog9 (154858)

          Chrome's biggest threat != Google's biggest threat.

          A browser funneling traffic to Google is Google's friend, regardless of the name that appears on it.

        • by wagnerrp (1305589)
          Google is a web search company, plain and simple. They make their money by selling ads on their search pages, and so everything they do is geared toward bringing more people to their search pages. If people use Chrome and get directed to Google search, great! If people use Firefox instead, and still get directed to Google search, well that's fantastic too. Businesses exist to make money. If a maneuver a business makes appears to be detrimental to itself, chances are they think doing so will improve the
      • by BZ (40346)

        For what it's worth, people seem to consistently underestimate how many people it takes to build a web browser. Opera had over 700 employees as of Feb 2011 (see http://my.opera.com/haavard/blog/2011/02/01/decade [opera.com] ), for example. Other browser makers are at similar or bigger headcounts, almost certainly.

    • by westlake (615356)

      As a non-profit organization, don't these things eventually have to show up in Mozilla's annual filings?

      They do.

      If only in an auditor's alert that about 97% of Mozilla's revenues come from a single search-engine source and a contract that is coming up for renewal.

      I would be happier if Moz was far less dependent on the add-click.

    • by xkr (786629)
      Non-profits have to file or disclose practically nothing. They have a tiny fraction of the disclosure requirements of public companies. They don't have to disclose how much officers are paid, or revenue sources, or how revenue is spent. They have only to provide a few very broad categories, with lots of wiggle-room even in those categories. They operate under a charter by the state, but there is no adult-supervision, as it were.
  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Tuesday December 20, 2011 @03:43PM (#38439626) Journal
    While Firefox's marketshare has been suffering slightly, I can't imagine that the per-seat value of being the default search engine has changed particularly, and FF is probably the competitor from which Google gains the most: FF reliably agrees with them on most major issues, has no significant strength to threaten Google's actually profitable ventures, and no(well, almost no, you could build FF-only XUL webapps; but nobody does) competing application environment.

    Microsoft has a browser, a search engine, win32, and silverlight, so they aren't exactly somebody that Google wants gaining ground, Apple has impressive control of certain high margin markets, and an iron grip on their mobile devices. Firefox has a browser. Unless Google has some aesthetic reason to crush anything it can, and risk the wrath of the antitrust guys, Firefox's existence is somewhere between 'harmless' and 'downright convenient'.
    • by Kjella (173770)

      Of course Chrome has no particular reason to want to kill Firefox, but hey.. it's money they could use on their own browser and get search users they don't pay for, strengthen their own brand and that is 100% loyal to Google and will implement any data gathering they want. Any antitrust case would be far weaker than Microsoft's OS bundling and 95% market share, they're light years away from that being a problem for them so IMO they don't have any huge benefit from keeping them around either. From what I've

      • by Tumbleweed (3706) *

        Of course Chrome has no particular reason to want to kill Firefox, but hey.. it's money they could use on their own browser and get search users they don't pay for

        Only some of those users would go with Google. Many of them would go to MS. Plus, money not going to Mozilla isn't necessarily going to go to Chrome. Google has enough resources that they don't have to take any from Chrome to give to Mozilla. That would be like God running out of 'space' for his 'stuff'. Not gonna happen.

        If nothing else, Google should help out Mozilla so they have some decent competition. Things like lazy tab loading, etc. are pushing Chrome just as much as Chrome is pushing Firefox. Firefo

      • by tbannist (230135)

        Of course Chrome has no particular reason to want to kill Firefox, but hey.. it's money they could use on their own browser and get search users they don't pay for, strengthen their own brand and that is 100% loyal to Google and will implement any data gathering they want.

        That's pointy-haired boss logic. The truth of the matter is if Google cuts funding for Firefox they will get a public relations mess and they will lose revenue from current Firefox users. Even worse, one of Google's competitors will get that revenue instead. For example, it could suddenly make Bing "a contender" for top search engine if Firefox went to Bing instead, even a handful of news stories about Bing's sudden market share increase would cost Google money, because there's not much lock in on "searc

    • by yuhong (1378501)

      Not to mention XUL webapp support was removed in FF4 anyway.

      • It's still supported on an opt-in basis. But given that it was prone to numerous security holes and was unused by the vast majority of the web-facing population, the decision was made that it made more sense for those who need it to explicitly turn it on (whitelisted, no less) rather than exposing all users to the risks that come with it.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 20, 2011 @05:17PM (#38441032)

      FF is probably the competitor from which Google gains the most

      Google doesn't consider FF a competitor.

      Nor Safari. Nor Opera. Nor even IE. Well, maybe older versions of IE which are arguably harmful to the web. Google doesn't make Chrome to take over the browser market, Google makes Chrome to spur innovation in browsers and, more specifically, to push that innovation in directions which Google feels are helpful to make the web a first-class computing platform, because that's Google's platform. If web apps become the dominant form of application software, then Google no longer has to worry about Microsoft or Apple exploiting their OS platform to lock Google out.

      Google made all this pretty clear when Chrome was first released. The whole purpose of Chrome at the beginning was to make a browser that had a really fast Javascript engine, in order to make all of the other browsers invest in speeding up their Javascript engines -- so Google's apps would run better and could do more. Subsidiary goals were to make the overall browser experience faster and more stable, and to remove as much cruft as possible from the browser interface so that web apps had more real estate and less OS-based stuff around them.

      Now, Chrome has moved to pushing HTML5 implementation quality and performance, and Google is beginning to experiment with using it to push new web technologies, like Dart, NaCl and SPDY -- not to lock people into Chrome, but, again, to make the web a better platform. That's why Google is publishing specs and talking to other browser makers about adopting these technologies into their browsers (with little success so far), because Google wants to be able to use this stuff on all browsers.

      What Google wants to achieve is a world where it doesn't matter what device, or OS, or browser you're using, web apps -- especially but not only Google's -- can at least as well as any platform-specific app. Many find it hard to believe that Google would invest so much money in Chrome and Android purely as a way of breaking potential lock-ins and walled gardens by other players in the market, but that's really what those are all about. Googlers are confident (arrogant may be a better word) that given a level playing field, Google will win, because they're just that good. So, it's worth doing some pretty big things just to keep anyone from being able to lock up the computing platforms again.

      So Google's patronage of Firefox is about two things: Maintaining browser diversity to make it even harder for MS to engage in lock-in tactics and revenue. Probably not in that order. Google's agreement with Mozilla buys Google a lot of search page views on which to sell ads. It's undoubtedly a net profit-maker for Google, and one that furthers Google's larger goals for the web platform ecosystem as well.

      The only surprising thing about this move was that MS didn't outbid Google -- but then I could see the Mozilla folks being a little leery of MS, so it may not have been a straight bidding war.

      • by BZ (40346)

        > Google doesn't consider FF a competitor.

        The search team at Google doesn't consider FF a competitor, probably. Other teams at Google (e.g. the ones trying to create Chrome-only content silos or actively creating and maintaining WebKit-only web content), it's not clear.

        I wouldn't treat "Google" as a terribly monolithic entity for purposes of claims of what is or is not considered.

        > Chrome has moved to pushing HTML5
        > implementation quality and performance

        Chrome has moved to pushing certain things G

  • I thought this would be Google's chance to kill Firefox. Not many other search providers for Mozilla to run to. Microsoft can attempt to tie IE and Bing together and Google can tie Chrome and Google search. Firefox is left out in the cold to whither and die like Netscape. Probably not good for the consumer, but such is the way of things.
    • by Millennium (2451) on Tuesday December 20, 2011 @03:48PM (#38439696) Homepage

      Google is coming under increasing scrutiny from the antitrust folks, and funding an open-source competitor in the browser space makes it look better. A better image can be worth quite a lot of money when lawyers are involved.

      • Google is coming under increasing scrutiny from the antitrust folks, and funding an open-source competitor in the browser space makes it look better. A better image can be worth quite a lot of money when lawyers are involved.

        Also, Google would probably lose a fair amount of marketshare to Bing if Firefox switched to MS as they were threatening to do.

      • They don't seem to be destructively-competitive douchebags like most companies. They compete, but in a positive manner. Whether that's all an act, or genuine, I suppose it doesn't really matter as long as they keep it up.

        I do remember some issue about them bundling their Bluetooth or GPS stack or something on Android, but that's about it. It seemed to me a silly thing to get upset about. I also think it was silly for MS to get into trouble for "bundling" IE with Windows. Why does nobody mind them bundling t

        • by Millennium (2451)

          They don't seem to be destructively-competitive douchebags like most companies. They compete, but in a positive manner. Whether that's all an act, or genuine, I suppose it doesn't really matter as long as they keep it up.

          Perhaps, but "most companies" pretty much ruined monopolies for everybody, even those who might wish to run them in a more benevolent manner. Google can stick to "don't be evil" all it wants, but the lawyers won't care, and so other methods are needed.

          I also think it was silly for MS to get into trouble for "bundling" IE with Windows. Why does nobody mind them bundling the Calculator app or Notepad and Wordpad?

          Because these are trivial programs, more demonstrations of the UI than anything else.

          There are just some things that you expect to come along with an OS for it to be useful out of the box.

          Browsing isn't one of them, as was clearly demonstrated at the time. That has since changed, but only because Microsoft legitimized it.

      • Plus, by almost entirely funding their competitor (and making them reliant on that funding), it will be very easy to make them go away if they should ever become a problem.
      • For a while, that's what Microsoft was doing with Apple for the same reason.

    • by Synerg1y (2169962)

      You know you can still go to http://www.google.com/ [google.com] right?

      • by BenoitRen (998927)

        We know that. The common (wo)man doesn't know they can type web addresses in the location bar. They go everywhere using Google's search box.

        • If the people around me are representative, common people don't know how to use the search bar. They either type the google's address, or ask somebody to set it as their homepage.

    • Except Google wouldn't have killed Firefox, it's likely that, one way or the other, Microsoft would have gobbled Firefox up. This is pure strategy. Better to basically prop up Microsoft's other major web competitor than to let it get swallowed up by Redmond.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by djh2400 (1362925)
      A commenter on a previous "Google might kill Firefox/Mozilla by not renewing default search agreement" provided a link to the following article, which I found to be an interesting read, and I would also recommend it:

      http://www.extremetech.com/internet/92558-how-browsers-make-money-or-why-google-needs-firefox [extremetech.com]

      In short, if Google stopped giving Mozilla the relatively small (relative to their annual profits) amount of money for each period, do you really think Microsoft would wait more than 5 seconds to
    • by Daetrin (576516) on Tuesday December 20, 2011 @04:27PM (#38440294)
      Why would Google want to kill Firefox? They don't make a profit directly from Chrome, they make money off of people using Chrome to go to Google pages where they'll be served ads. If people are using Firefox instead but still going to Google pages Google still makes just as much money. If they were somehow able to kill Firefox then some of the ex-Firefox users would move to Chrome, but some would move to IE or Safari or who knows what else.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        If Firefox dies, I'm switching back to Lynx.

    • Why would Google want to kill Firefox?

      Chrome doesn't generate revenue, and while it would be better (for Google) if all people using Firefox switched to Chrome, they wouldn't. Google would risk giving a lot of customers for Microsoft, and they fear that more than they fear paying some independent 3rd party.

      If Google sees another browser taking users from both Chrome and IE, don't be surprized if they supported it.

    • by Goaway (82658)

      Google's relationship to Mozilla is basically, "We like what you're doing, but we think we can do better". They have no reason to want Firefox gone, at least not as long as it uses them as the default search engine.

      • by swframe (646356)
        Actually, google said, "Mozilla, can we work with you to make firefox radically better?" and Mozilla said "no, we have our own ideas and we don't want you telling us what to do!" and so google created Chrome with the goal of forcing all the vendors to make their browsers better. Sure javascipt performance improvements have been great but can we get a little type safe, pretty please? Writing more than 100K lines of javascript without any type checking is so 1970.
        • Actually, google said, "Mozilla, can we work with you to make firefox radically better?" and Mozilla said "no, we have our own ideas and we don't want you telling us what to do!" and so google created Chrome with the goal of forcing all the vendors to make their browsers better.

          [citation please]

        • by Anonymous Coward

          And then Mozilla was all "no you din't!!!" and then Google was all like "BOOYAH". And Mozilla went "Aw HELL NAW", and Google went "dolla dolla bill. HOLLA'".

          Source: http://myownass/the-history-of-firefox-vs-chrome/ [myownass]

        • Why have type safety when you can have type coercion? Actually knowing how your variables are represented isn't trendy these days.
    • by Vellmont (569020)


      I thought this would be Google's chance to kill Firefox.

      Why in the world would Google want to kill Firefox? Google is an advertising company. They make money on people using the web. Google killing Firefox would be like NBC killing RCA. Sure, Google makes a browser that competes with Firefox, but that's only to encourage more web usage. It's in Google's best interests to drive the web forward, and that means browsers need to continue to evolve.


      Microsoft can attempt to tie IE and Bing together and Googl

    • I thought this would be Google's chance to kill Firefox. Not many other search providers for Mozilla to run to. Microsoft can attempt to tie IE and Bing together and Google can tie Chrome and Google search. Firefox is left out in the cold to whither and die like Netscape.

      One of Google's key interests is encouraging apps to be built on open web technologies rather than OS/browser specific ones (especially ones that are specific to someone else's OS/browser.)

      Every competing desktop browser with non-negligibl

  • It's amazing how few people change their default search provider. That's why this matters so much. Most of Bing's traffic comes from IE's default search box. Google pays Apple something like $100 million a year to be the default search provider on the iPhone.

    I'm a little worried about the terms of the agreement not being disclosed. We're launching a search ad blocker [sitetruth.com] that removes all but one ad per page on Google. Bing, and Yahoo search results. We're trying to re-introduce the idea that most of the sc

    • by noahm (4459)

      I'm a little worried about the terms of the agreement not being disclosed. We're launching a search ad blocker that removes all but one ad per page on Google. Bing, and Yahoo search results. We're trying to re-introduce the idea that most of the screen space should be content, not ads, and we put some teeth into that idea with ad blockers. (Yes, you can block all the search ads if you want.)

      I used to work for Mozilla. One thing I can say with confidence is that Mozilla would not have signed this agreement

  • The deal says it’s for at least another three years. This duration is too enough for the development of Chrome to functioning like Firefox. I use many Google futures which take great support by Chrome but still use Firefox because few plug-ins.

It's a naive, domestic operating system without any breeding, but I think you'll be amused by its presumption.

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