Firefox Receives Three More Years of Google Funding

Dennis Faas's picture

Google has renewed its deal to be the default search engine for the Firefox browser, providing Mozilla a major financial boost. But some suggest Microsoft bargained for that same slot, and ponder the implications for the search market.

Google's contract for Firefox's default search engine position was worth $89 million in 2009 and $103 million in 2010, about 85 per cent of Mozilla's revenue.

Experts believe Mozilla's other licensing deals, grants, and donations from users would produce nowhere near enough income to keep the browser well supported and updated. That may explain why it is asking for expanded donations and offering a Firefox version with Microsoft's Bing search engine built-in.

Google has obvious reasons to stop supporting Firefox, which would help clear the field for its own Chrome browser to challenge Microsoft's Internet Explorer for dominance of the browser market. 

Firefox Browser Safe Until 2014

The renewed Mozilla-Google deal , which Mozilla describes as a "significant and mutually beneficial revenue agreement," runs through 2014, although details won't be available until Mozilla's 2013 financial filings. (Source:

Without firm figures, it's difficult to gauge each side's interest in the renewal. And there's little information available to judge whether Microsoft joined the bidding, and if so, how much it was willing to pay.

While it's still very early to drawn any conclusions, some observers believe the lack of leaks about the price Google paid to extend the contract suggests the renewal isn't significantly higher or lower than the expiring arrangement.

Movement in either direction would likely have seen one side or the other crowing about getting the best of the deal.

Microsoft Misses An Opportunity

Stability of pricing in the renewal suggests to some that Microsoft was unwilling to pony up $100 million or more to replace Google inside Firefox, which would have brought Microsoft's search engine nearly 200 million extra users.

Given Microsoft's huge cash reserves, observers conclude it's not willing to adopt a "whatever it takes" strategy to gain new users for Bing. (Source:

Despite all the speculation and uncertainty, the renewal makes two things clear: Firefox will remain a player in the browser market for the next few years, but it's success remains very much at the discretion of Google, which is also a rival in that very same market.

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