At last Google has renewed its deal with Mozilla whereby it provides Mozilla with cash to make Google Search the default option for the Firefox browser.
This is good news for Firefox fans as, with the growing market success of Chrome it was starting to look as if Google didn't need to support another browser to keep its share of the search market. As before, users can select another search provider but most don't and so search using Firefox usually meant search using Google.
This is a perfectly reasonable deal and while you might wonder what an open source project is doing having financial links with a big company, this really is the norm for big open source projects. The only problem is that Mozilla gets most of its income from Google and makes it very vulnerable to any change in Google's attitude or needs.
While Mozilla has a number of other search partners, Google is by far the biggest source of cash. However, recently it struck a deal with Microsoft to provide a customized Firefox that features Bing as its search engine. It is possible that Firefox aligning more with Microsoft is one of the reasons that Google decided to extend the support for another three years, but being the default search engine for hundreds of millions of Firefox users probably also had something to do with it.
At the Firefox blog put it:
"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."
The terms of the deal are secret. (But see the update at the end,)
Although Mozilla is secure for three years the steady rise of Chrome is a future threat. Chrome has more or less overtaken Firefox as the number one browser and, if the trend continues, the situation in three years time could be very different. It is clear that Mozilla needs additional sources of income. It might well be an open source company but it behaves like a commercial enterprise in most things other than sales revenue.
According to AllThingsD Google is paying $300 million per year to Mozilla which is a big jump from the previous payment estimated to be around $100 million per annum. If this is true then Firefox is not only safe for the next three years it should have a reasonable cushion. The reason for the increase is competition from Microsoft and Yahoo.
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