Google Could Pull Plug On Firefox

Dennis Faas's picture

Mozilla's Firefox is in the news this week and not for any positive reasons.

The web browser slipped to third in the market behind Google's Chrome, and there's speculation a major financial backer of the browser may pull out. If so, that could be the end of the popular web browser.

News on market share comes from Statcounter, which tracks visitors to about three million websites and collates this data to provide credible estimates of online usage.

Google Chrome Usage Up 550% in 2 Years

The company's figures for November show that Google's Chrome is used by 25.69 per cent of people worldwide (up from just 4.66 per cent two years ago), overtaking Firefox at 25.23 per cent. Internet Explorer remains the market leader with 40.63 per cent.

Analysts are predicting Chrome will continue to grow and could become the first browser to seriously challenge Internet Explorer on a global basis. (Source:

Google Providing Hefty Firefox Revenues

Ironically, Google is a significant financial contributor to Mozilla, which operates on an open-source basis.

The organization is funded by donations from users, grants from organizations, and royalties from other companies. Google pays a royalty to be the default search engine within Firefox. This payment makes up 84 per cent of the total royalty payments received by Mozilla, which makes Google a major funding source behind Firefox's continuing development and support.

Exactly what's happening with that deal is something of a mystery, however.

Google has confirmed its current agreement is still in place, but won't comment on reports the future of the deal is under negotiation. Meanwhile, Mozilla has recently strengthened its campaign to attract user donations, suggesting it may be preparing a financial fallback against loss of any existing revenue stream.

Money Move May Win War

Google's motivations are also under question.

Some cynical analysts note that pulling funding at this point could deal a major blow to Firefox, helping Google establish its own dominance among browsers now that Chrome has outpaced Firefox's market share.

Those who disbelieve such conspiracy theories simply wonder what Google would gain from continuing to support Mozilla so heavily. Since its name is now synonymous with web searching, Google may not want to support a rival browser just so it drives more users to Google's already dominant search engine. (Source:

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