Google renews Firefox search deal

Google's money will keep flowing to Mozilla, at least for another three years
Darren Allan

December 21, 2011

You might recall at the start of the month, we wrote an article about the fact that Firefox’s search deal with Google was up for renewal.

This is the agreement whereby Google is the default search engine in Mozilla’s browser, a privilege which the big G pays handsomely for.

While this is naturally a whole lot of surfers which are directed to Google, it’s a far more important deal to Mozilla, as the money the search engine stumps up represents the majority of Firefox’s income. 85% of it, in fact.

So the theory was put forward by some that if Google wanted to sink Firefox in order to push its Chrome browser higher still, it could turn Mozilla down and devastate Firefox’s income.

This hasn’t happened though, as we guessed it wouldn’t, with the news today that a renewal has been agreed. The deal will run over the next three years, although no specific details were revealed.

There are a number of reasons why Google didn’t exercise the option to try and capsize Firefox in 2012. Firstly, because it makes money from this agreement too, albeit not a critical sum like Mozilla.

Secondly, spurning Firefox could have led to Mozilla striking deals with Bing and Yahoo, strengthening its search rivals over the coming year. Granted, they’re not exactly breathing down Google’s neck (ankle, more like), but even so…

And then there’s the fact that Google’s Chrome is gaining market share rapidly anyway, with Firefox drifting downwards as it is. This situation seems likely to continue – it’s been the story of 2011 – so there’s no real need to force Chrome’s advance anyway.

Mozilla, however, will doubtless be breathing a sigh of relief at having signed up for another three years of cashflow from the Google coffers.

At the close of 2014, the browser world is likely to be very different. Some already see Chrome as the primary challenger to Internet Explorer, with one analyst firm, StatCounter, estimating Chrome now has a bigger market share than Firefox.

Net Applications, however, doesn’t agree and still has Firefox in second place, 4% ahead of Chrome.


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