Mozilla has published State of Mozilla, its annual report for 2015, including its financial statements. So having ditched Google in 2014, how is Mozilla managing?
As reported in A New Future For Mozilla, in November 2014 Mozilla announced its decision to terminate its longstanding arrangement whereby Google was the default global search engine for Firefox, embarking instead on a 5-year arrangement with Yahoo as its US partner, Yandex in Russia and Baidu in China.
Given that a large proportion of Mozilla's revenue came from its contract with Google, this decision gave cause for concern about Mozilla's future prosperity and even its survival.
Now we can breathe a sign of relief knowing that a year down the line Mozilla is actually in a better financial position, as can be seen in this excerpt from its audited financial statement.
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Royalties, deriving mainly from the Firefox search partnerships in 2015 amounted to over US $417 million, up $96 million from the previous year. To quote from the recently published The State of Mozilla:
The new search strategy increased the number of options available to Firefox users. We have new partnerships with DuckDuckGo, Google, Yahoo and more. We also continue to have relationships with Amazon, Bing, Twitter, Wikipedia and regional search providers.
Firefox users can easily choose to change their search provider from a number of pre-installed alternatives, including Amazon, Bing, Google, Twitter, Wikipedia and many regional search providers. This supports our global search strategy and user-focused product strategy to provide people with choice and control over their web experience.
In 2015 and 2016, Mozilla entered into additional search partnerships, bringing our total to 12 partners and including all major internet search providers. The new search strategy diversified revenue sources for Mozilla. While some of this is evident in the 2015 financials, the improvement will be more notable in 2016.
So is the Mozilla Foundation out of trouble? Diversifying its search strategy seems to have paid off - but it relies on users choosing Firefox as their web browser and this just isn't happening.
According to statistics collected by NetMarketShare.com Firefox had around 12% of the global desktop browser market during 2015. It started 2016 with 12.13% by the end of June this had declined to 7.98% and after a slight recovery in July reached a low of 7.69% at the end of August. Since then it has rallied with the latest data (end November, 2016) showing a share of 11.91% so that if the trend continues it should send the year with the same share as it started out with. Even so, given that Internet Explorer declined from 46.32% to 21.66% (a loss of 24.66%) while Edge only went from 2.97% to 5.21% despite doubling its share, you would have expected Firefox to have see an increase. Instead Chrome was the browser to benefit, - going from 33.33% to 55.83%, a gain of 22.50%. (See our analysis in Over 2 Billion Chrome Browsers In Use).
Mozilla plays a very important role in Open Source, distributing funds to projects that underpin the Internet and having strong principles. It is sometimes difficult to see where it is heading and why it behaves at it does. But as we want it to continue it is good to see it flourished in 2015.