Thursday, November 13, 2014

Will Google drop Mozilla and Firefox support now their agreement is up for renegotiation?

I noticed the article regarding Mozilla, which largely means Firefox and the current contract is up for renegotiation.

This negotiation is largely about whether or not Firefox is financially viable.

I first noticed the negotiations in 2008. Back then revenue made for Mozilla was around 80 million of which about 80% was from their deal with Google. Mozilla's own costs were around $20 million year so without income from Google Mozilla would be dead in the water. Google Chrome was just starting in the market and had no real presence. Firefox around 20-25% and Internet Explorer around 75-80% if I recall correctly. Without Firefox being in the market Google may have found it near impossible to get a foot in the door as Microsoft would have had close to a monopoly. Google is the default search engine and whilst you can select other search engines.

Fast forward to 2011 and the contract was up for  renegotiation. Firefox used Microsoft as leverage and all of sudden the figure for Google was up to $300 million. Google couldn't afford to lose that level of market share for their search engine to Microsoft and Bing. To me just as importantly with Google Chrome now reaching double digit penetration as a percentage of the market Microsoft's presence with Internet Explorer was weakening considerably. Google were actively promoting Firefox and Chrome as alternatives to Internet Explorer. In effect it was as though Google had two browsers on the market.

Now IT people love to promote the new and different and really most don't like Microsoft and simply tolerate them. So everyone who used to push the Firefox barrow was now pushing the shiny new Google Chrome barrel. Of course IT people don't really care Google is recording their every movement. It isn't Microsoft seemed to be all that mattered. Google Chrome was fast, lightweight, although a bit shaky, but that didn't matter.

Now we reach 2014 and the contact is again up for renegotiation. It is unlikely that Microsoft will fall for the old let's use Microsoft again to leverage Google trick, although you never really know. Google won't want to open a crack that could see Firefox lose market share unless of course it was all to them. In a way Google are now in the situation where Firefox is probably limiting their market share.

In six years Firefox has made almost no inroads into any other sector of the technology market. They have a mobile operating system but really, if their revenue outside of Google's support is taken away, and income from investments is removed, there's probably very little profit growth in the last six years. The Firefox browser has lost market share and is estimated to be around 15% of the market.

My guess is Google has made their bed and will need to continue to support Firefox for the next three years. Google in effect still has two browsers and if they lose Firefox their opportunity to dominate reduces. If Firefox wanes further it is possible that loss could also be Microsoft and Internet Explorer's gain. Any strengthening for Microsoft is not in Google's interests. Google is making money from Firefox, perhaps not as much as it could with the higher cost, but still that beats not making money.

I expect Google will again support Firefox and it will be hard for them not to keep the status quo.

Kelvin Eldridge

NOTE: Personally I do not recommend Firefox. I have seen it damage the linking in Outlook emails multiple times. I also find nearly all Firefox installs to be hijacked and it appears, because of the importance of the income from the search default, this may have made it more difficult to remove the malware. I find Internet Explorer and Google Chrome to be easier to repair. If I need a test back-up browser I'll often install Opera. Installing Opera reduces the situation where clients are exposed to Google's monitoring of everyone's activities.

1 comment:

  1. Well I must admit I was surprised and WRONG. Google has not renewed its agreement and Yahoo is now the default search engine for the US version of Firefox.

    Very interesting indeed. This could be a boom for Yahoo, but it may also signal that Google wishes to increase market share by letting Firefox wither. In time the details no doubt will be released and should make for interesting reading.


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