Would You Pay for Firefox? Mozilla Says 'Yes'

John Lister's picture

Mozilla has confirmed a premium (paid) version of the Firefox browser is on the way. It says it won't charge for any features that are currently free.

The details are still quite hazy and Mozilla is still considering exactly what will be in the paid version of the "enhanced" browser. It plans to launch it in October, 2019 and will most likely be an on-going subscription service rather than a one-off payment. (Source: techradar.com)

One feature that looks very likely to be included is a Virtual Private Network or VPN. This uses a combination of secure socket layer encryption (otherwise known as SSL) over the VPN connection, while also offering an obfuscated IP address from the VPN server, because data over the VPN will be relayed from the VPN server to a third party website, then back again to the user.

This effectively makes sure the connection between the user and the web site being accessed cannot easily be eavesdropped on, though there are major limitations such as whether or not the target website uses HTTPS (hyper text transfer protocol using SSL) to serve up its webpages (instead of HTTP).

Related: Do I need a VPN? Are VPNs Safe for Online Banking?

Reasons Why VPNs are not Fully Secure

Depending on who you ask, there are a few reasons for using a VPN. Most people will certainly agree it's for security and privacy - but those come with caveats.

The fact is, VPNs are useful for preventing third parties from eavesdropping on data. For example: using free WiFi in a coffee shop would prevent anyone from sniffing your data locally (at the coffee shop). Even so, using a VPN over a non-secure website won't technically anonymize your data; it would only anonymize your IP address. That's because the VPN uses a remote server to relay data back from the server you're connected to. For example, a typical connection might be: you -> vpn server -> website, then data gets relayed back in reverse.

This isn't fully secure unless the website you're connecting to uses HTTPS, simply because web pages contain elements (often externally) that make requests to third party websites, which then collect cookies and data about the user (which may already be stored on your computer regardless of whether your use a VPN or not). So are you fully secure? The answer is no.

Related: How to Fix: VPN Disconnect While Torrenting (Exposes IP)

Related: Explained: in terms of Net Neutrality, will a VPN Stop ISP Throttling, Filtering?

Firefox VPN May Be a "Freemium" Model

While there are also some shady reasons for obfuscating an IP address, many users also use a VPN to avoid government or intelligence services from knowing who is using which sites, particularly in oppressive regimes.

Because VPNs obscure the source of the request for data (by obfuscating the IP address), they can also be used to get round geo-blocked websites, though this doesn't always work perfectly.

Mozilla has previously worked with a specialist provider to offer VPN services for $10 a month. One option Mozilla is considering is to let all Firefox users send and receive a certain amount of data through a built-in VPN free of charge. This is referred to as the "freemium" model. Once you are over the limit, Firefox will likely open a new window (modal), then make a suggestion for a subscription plan in hopes of signing the user up.

Related: Private Internet Access: reliable VPN for only $3.49/mo (2 year plan)

Related: Explained: VPN vs Proxy; What's the Difference?

Cloud Storage Also In Play

Another possibility is that the premium browser subscription will include online "cloud" storage. Google among others already offer both free and paid cloud storage. It may be that Firefox users are more likely to trust their data with Mozilla rather than Google. Google says it doesn't use any data stored in its cloud service for advertising, but that doesn't rule out other access.

Mozilla says that any paid service won't affect its ongoing work with the free version of Firefox, promising that "A high-performing, free and private-by-default Firefox browser will continue to be central to our core service offerings."

What's Your Opinion?

Is it smart for Mozilla to offer a paid service? Would you consider paying for a VPN or cloud access? What other features would you pay for in a browser?

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Average: 5 (8 votes)

Comments

Dennis Faas's picture

Unless Mozilla comes up something that isn't already being done and is actually innovative, I'll continue to stick with 'free'. What Mozilla is doing here (offering a paid version of Firefox) reminds me of how Windows software developers incorporate bundled junk offers that no one really wants or needs. The source code of the program then becomes a heaping pile of steaming poo with all the bells and whistles that don't make a lick of difference. Did I just say 'lick' and 'poo' in the same sentence? Yes I did.

On the other hand, Firefox has a huge following and this would certainly be a revenue stream. I'm just not convinced a VPN is really going to be smart thing, especially if they advertise it as "the only way to secure yourself online", like many VPN services do. It's a bunch of bunk, but that depends on how you use it.

bulajap's picture

I will stay with the free Firefox.

jrr147_5324's picture

They will loose a bet on this guy. I am at the point where I am seriously considering going to another browser because of the hassles I have with the current Firefox, so I'll be damned if I'll pay for more of the same.

LouieLouEye's picture

A free VPN is available from many places. The newer versions of the Opera browser have it, though not turned on by default. I like Firefox and have used it occasionally for many years. But I am not willing to pay unless it is truly better than the others. i doubt Google will let that happen!

David's picture

The only way I would pay for this is if the VPN it offered was a Netflix or Hulu friendly VPN. They are getting good at geoblocking, but I don't want my internet providers throttling my speed to these services, or using the data use to justify extorting money from these services (thanks, Pai!)

f58tammy's picture

I would not expect any VPN to change the way your ISP affects your data. My ISP Cox is wanting $50.00 to remove my data cap, with another $15.00 for fast lane gaming with a app you install on your device called Cox Elite Gamer:
Do you remember that controversy abut the FCC and the internet? Well we now know all the ISP's will not respect it's user data. No browser or VPN will change that.
As to Mazola.org (the .org is suppose to be a organization not a "for profit corporation") charging for their browser. I just have one thought "how well did YouTube Red work out for Google?"
I'm 61 and a raised up to believe in the "red, white and blue" I am sadden to see how it has turned into a complete lie for the sake of national security. In the past decade we have come a sneeze away from repeating 1939. If your not sure of what I'm talking about ask someone my age about it.
If you think the USA government or any other governments is willing to give-up the ability of spying or deciding what you can get on the internet. You must not be from this world. In the USA we have given up the Constitution of 1775 for the corporate greater good hook line and (we are the) sinker.

dan_2160's picture

I am your age, f58tammy -- and the U.S. Constitution was ratified unanimously by the states on Sept 17, 1787. The Bill of Rights (first 10 amendments) were ratified Dec 15, 1791. There is no Constitution of 1775.
Sadly we are a sneeze away from a dictatorial, authoritarian regime with the acquiescence of the formerly responsible and repsectable GOP, headed by the most corrupt President since Richard Nixon -- who is beginning to make Nixon look like an amateur.

f58tammy's picture

It has been a few years (to say the least) since I opened up a 10th grade history book. I truly do appreciate your correction on my dating of the constitution, I didn't mean to post such inaccurate information. As to the second part of your comment. Unfortunately I do so agree with you, may I also add this bit of info. During the 75th anniversary of D-day, the president said he wanted to have the Scotland Health Care System (HCS) privatized by US company's and such actions linked to a trade agreement between the US and Great Britain. This was from Kristy Blackman on the Prime Minister Q&A of June-05 on C-span.org. Time Stamp 22:06, the point is he backtracked from the statement as he always dose. Although his thought process is still apparent he wants the world to do as he would like it to be dictated by him (remind you of anyone from the past?). I apologize I am aware that this is the incorrect forum for this subject, although I think it was important for someone to say.

FreedomisnotCONTROL's picture

I think if Firefox wants to be one of the best browsers out there VPN should be Free rather then trying to jump on the RIP Off whomever they can band wagon and they should make their browser one of the most secure oriented browsers out their with the PEOPLE in mind. When I mean secure I mean secure from anyone and everyone including our biggest traitors of FREEDOM the Government. When I say SECURE I mean secure enough like apple that the NSA can't even get into it. That would make them #1 out there and I guarantee they would get the usage and customers they are wanting.

steve.mcwilliam_11637's picture

If Mozilla goes to a subscription model for Firefox then I will either stay with the FREE version, or, should that be removed, then I will move to another browser, possibly Opera !!!

d_w_edwards_12376's picture

Basically, the Firefox devs are admitting with this statement, that they're taking the time-honoured corporate approach of "screw the consumer". They're effectively saying "We'll continue using you plebs as free beta testers, but only let rich people have the fast, full featured, bug free version of the browser we developed on the back of your unpaid beta testing".

What's next in the line up, I ask myself? Intrusive ads for products most of us neither want nor can afford, that we can't turn off? Or perhaps I shouldn't be giving them ideas like this free of charge, but instead offering this up as a "consultant" at the market rate of £400 per hour ...

Cynical, moi? Whatever gave you that idea? Oh, that might have something to do with the whole "We're not going to let you buy the software, merely rent it" scam that Microsnot launched with Office 365. Which will almost certainly in future, involve such greed-driven measures as making the files you created on the current version incompatible with the shiny new version, and charging a fat fee to let you convert them to the format used by the shiny new version you're already renting at a rate that goes up annually by inflation plus 10%.

But of course, every outfit behaves like this the moment it becomes big enough to think it's entitled to jump on the "Let's collect mansions, yachts and offshore slush funds" gravy train.

dan_2160's picture

Hey folks, this is simply capitaism, especially as practiced in today's world. We've entered into an era of capitalism run amuck without the rational controls to prevent abuse of this precious economic system, gouging the consumer public, and protecting our world from the destruction of the climate to benefit the short-term economic interests of the most wealthy amongst us. Governments like ours in the U.S. are now operating in a fact-free environment -- threatening our very existence and prosperity (remember the economic recovery began in 2010 under President Obama).

beach.boui's picture

I have used the Mozilla Browser all the way back to the Netscape days. It hasn't always been the best browser. But, it has always been the browser I prefer to use. There really isn't a better browser option out there, in my opinion. It remains to be seen whether the paid version of the browser will have features compelling enough to pay for them. I would be more likely to pay a one-time fee than to pay an ongoing monthly fee. I'm looking for ways to reduce my monthly expenses, not increase them.