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Mozilla and Google Sign New Agreement For Default Search

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the much-ado-about-nothing dept.

Firefox 103

An anonymous reader writes "It appears Google will not cut their default search arrangement with Mozilla. From the official blog post: '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.'"

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prost fist? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38439512)

had to

how are the terms able to stay secret? (4, Interesting)

Trepidity (597) | more than 2 years ago | (#38439532)

As a non-profit organization, don't these things eventually have to show up in Mozilla's annual filings? Or are they somehow aggregated together in an opaque way by the subsidiary relationship of the Mozilla Foundation vs. the Mozilla Corporation?

Re:how are the terms able to stay secret? (1, Informative)

jgagnon (1663075) | more than 2 years ago | (#38439588)

It's not like they need to report line items. They get their money from Google and this is the amount. What else do people need to know?

Re:how are the terms able to stay secret? (5, Informative)

Trepidity (597) | more than 2 years ago | (#38439662)

Answering my own question, it looks like it does more or less come out in the reports. Here [pdf] [mozilla.com] is their financial report for 2009-2010. It reports that they earned "royalties" of $101 million in 2009 and $121 million in 2010, and they explain their royalties as follows:

The Corporation has a contract with a search engine provider for royalties which expires November 2011. Approximately 84% and 86% of royalty revenue for 2010 and 2009, respectively, was derived from this contract.

So that seems to imply that "a search engine provider" paid them around $87 million in 2009, and $102 million in 2010. Of course, the current deal may be substantially higher or lower, but that's probably a ballpark figure. Somehow considerably higher than I expected, but now that I look it seems Mozilla has >600 employees, which is also many more than I expected.

Re:how are the terms able to stay secret? (1)

RebelWebmaster (628941) | more than 2 years ago | (#38439726)

Mozilla does a lot more than just make a web browser.

Re:how are the terms able to stay secret? (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38439800)

Not to be dense, but as someone who has used Firefox and even Thunderbird Sunbird/Lightning at times, what else do they do? The About us link I just looked at doesn't spoon feed it to me, so I don't even know what Drumbeat is after reading a hundred words...

A real question, even if I am an AC.

Re:how are the terms able to stay secret? (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38439918)

Not to be dense, but as someone who has used Firefox and even Thunderbird Sunbird/Lightning at times, what else do they do? The About us link I just looked at doesn't spoon feed it to me, so I don't even know what Drumbeat is after reading a hundred words...

A real question, even if I am an AC.

I'd like to think that Mozilla is there to fight the good fight of freedom and openness on the web.

Apart from FF/TB and whatnot, it would perhaps include doing some R&D and also lobbying/marketing for Freedom(TM) and Openness(TM)...

Re:how are the terms able to stay secret? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38442674)

I'd like to think that too, but the harsh realities of life prevent me from it.

Re:how are the terms able to stay secret? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38440812)

Mozilla are a non-profit subsidiary of Google, designed to direct traffic to Google until Google's browser has reached sufficient marketshare.

Chrome is approaching but not quite there.

Re:how are the terms able to stay secret? (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38440982)

Not to be dense, but as someone who has used Firefox and even Thunderbird Sunbird/Lightning at times, what else do they do?

If with "they" you mean the Mozilla Foundation (which should be right, considering you're talking about drumbeat), then primarily what they do is try to be the lever in whatever project comes along which furthers the mission of advancing the Mozilla Manifesto [mozilla.org] .

Wow, that sounds very handwavy. Let's try again.

The Mozilla Foundation is a non-profit foundation, consisting of just a handful of people. They fully own the Mozilla Corporation (which makes and promotes Firefox), and give it the goal of not just making the best browser possible, but to use this to help keep the internet open. This means the vast majority of work is being done by the Mozilla Corporation. What the Foundation focuses on besides this (with limited money and people, compared to the much larger size of the Corporation) are other ways to help make the web a richer and better platform; a more versatile platform, which has a better chance of staying open. The annual report [mozilla.org] lists focus areas like identity, apps, education, etc. These are areas where it doesn't always make immediate sense for the people who develop Firefox to focus on, but which are relevant in the bigger battle to keep the web the healthy open platform it is today. Drumbeat is one way in which the Foundation tries to find and fund projects (both with money, and by gathering interested people) that work within these focus areas.

So yeah, basically what the Foundation does is try to take the long view on the web, trying to act as its protector. Where possible, it uses its most powerful tool, Firefox, to ward off threats to the openness of this platform (think of the very public stance on the next generation video codec for the web; without Firefox, everyone would have have to knuckle down to MPEG-LA and have to pay to publish H.264 video - now, there's a very good chance that video on the web will be open and unemcumbered). Where threats (or the solutions to them) are less clear, they get involved in conversations, try to incubate projects to explore options, and basically make people aware.

Re:how are the terms able to stay secret? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38441688)

They make html rendering engines, JavaScript interpreters, employ gurus like John Ressig, etc.

Re:how are the terms able to stay secret? (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38441738)

They do all sorts of things, most of them in concert with one or more communities (either Mozilla-centric or not).

  • B2G (Boot to Gecko), an early-stage OS primarly targetted at phones
  • Popcorn.js, a HTML5 Media framework
  • Do Not Track Header Initiative
  • BrowserID Project, an initiative/implementation of a way to reduce the burden of authentication on the web
  • Bugzilla, a bug tracking software used by a lot of folks
  • MDN (the Mozilla Developer Network), documenting their browser, but rapidly expanding to document the whole web platform
  • Develop/maintain the Mozilla websites all in the open (excepting the keys to their boxen, etc.)
  • They support Firebug, the browser debugger

Plus all of the other things from localization to interacting with the standards bodies for HTML, CSS, JS, etc. to give feedback/help push the web platform in a good direction.

I'm sure I left a million things out. They really do a whole lot, and anyone with the time and a bit of knowledge can dive in and help them with 99.9% of it.

Re:how are the terms able to stay secret? (3, Informative)

InsightIn140Bytes (2522112) | more than 2 years ago | (#38439788)

So that seems to imply that "a search engine provider" paid them around $87 million in 2009, and $102 million in 2010. Of course, the current deal may be substantially higher or lower, but that's probably a ballpark figure.

It's not a fixed amount, it's revenue share from ad clicks. When Firefox user clicks any Google ads, Firefox also gains revenue. It's the same with Opera and other browsers. The only thing they need to negotiate is how high that percent is. Since Firefox market share has gone down, the amount Google pays them has as well.

monetize pressure on Mozilla (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38443880)

Any users who dislike the things that Mozilla does can switch to another default Search.
So Mozilla gets less money. Perhaps that's a language they understands...

Re:how are the terms able to stay secret? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38444266)

Since Firefox market share has gone down, the amount Google pays them has as well.

That's pure speculation.

Re:how are the terms able to stay secret? (1)

InsightIn140Bytes (2522112) | more than 2 years ago | (#38444554)

No, it's pure math. Since Firefox gets revenue share from Google, it also means that if they user count goes down, their revenue does too.

Re:how are the terms able to stay secret? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38445704)

The part about this being "revenue share" is the speculation.I know sites like Engadget used terms like that but... they're known for making shit up so I'm sceptical as well.

Do you have any proof that this deal is revenue sharing from ad clicks instead of just lump payment or payment per browser or payment per visitor?

Re:how are the terms able to stay secret? (2)

icebike (68054) | more than 2 years ago | (#38440884)

Answering my own question, it looks like it does more or less come out in the reports. Here [pdf] [mozilla.com] is their financial report for 2009-2010. It reports that they earned "royalties" of $101 million in 2009 and $121 million in 2010

Its odd that this income would be lumped under royalties, because the definition of royalties usually implies the payment for the use of something owned by the payee. Such as income from book sales, etc. Mozilla also makes some income from the sale of various products on their web site, per that PDF.

But assuming you are correct, and Revenues and other support represents the bulk of their income, it would appear that Google is paying for substantially ALL of the development for TWO browsers, Chrome, and Mozilla, as well as providing code for Chromium.

Re:how are the terms able to stay secret? (1)

Trepidity (597) | more than 2 years ago | (#38440920)

I believe it's structured as a commission-type deal, where they get a percentage of the AdWords revenue from ad-clicks on searches sent to Google by Firefox, which is a vaguely royalty-type arrangement.

Re:how are the terms able to stay secret? (1)

icebike (68054) | more than 2 years ago | (#38441346)

I believe it's structured as a commission-type deal, where they get a percentage of the AdWords revenue from ad-clicks on searches sent to Google by Firefox, which is a vaguely royalty-type arrangement.

I see. A stretch, in my opinion, but a convenient one for both parties.

Does MS make a royalty from a click in IE?

Does Sears make a Royalty each time I pound a nail with my Craftsman Hammer?

Its still an odd arrangement, but it prevents Google from making a purely arbitrary gift to Mozilla and
allows Mozilla look like they are earning the money. Both ends may see value (tax wise) in such an
arrangement. Google expenses it right off its income, Mozilla considers it earned income, and subtracts its expenses. Probably better than a philanthropic outright gift to both parties. (IANATA) (Not a tax attorney).

But because this was substantially ALL the income on that balance sheet, it still boils down to Google accounts for essentially ALL of Mozilla's funding, which means Google is directly funding the development of two Browsers at the same time. Each of which have fundamentally different cores.

Re:how are the terms able to stay secret? (1)

SharkLaser (2495316) | more than 2 years ago | (#38446402)

What the hell? Google has no interest in gifting money to Firefox or anyone. They're both doing business.

Re:how are the terms able to stay secret? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38447830)

allows Mozilla look like they are earning the money.

Some times things are actually as they appear. Google is widely the preferred search provider for Mozilla, but not in all geographies. In other places they have made other decisions - Yandex is the preferred provider in Russia for example. There is every reason to believe engines other than google would have been happy to buy this placement as well - commercial search engines make money off of traffic and they all pay referral fees to increase this flow. What mozilla is selling has real value.

Re:how are the terms able to stay secret? (1)

Mathinker (909784) | more than 2 years ago | (#38445654)

it would appear that Google is paying for substantially ALL of the development for TWO browsers, Chrome, and Mozilla, as well as providing code for Chromium.

And more power to them, for that. Whenever I think about a future time when (non-server) Linux has a large enough user base that it is a common target for malicious attacks, I wonder exactly how much I would benefit from jumping ship to a more fringe OS like Plan 9. It seems to me that to have the same level of usability, I'd be running ports of the same FOSS user-land programs (browsers, etc.) to do my work, and then I'd still inherit the same vulnerabilities at the application level (I'd be protected if the black hat merely tries to infect my OS via these vulnerabilities, but not if he uses them to infect the applications themselves --- e.g., chrome malware injection into FF itself). However, more competing FOSS projects filling a specific application niche (browsers, in this case) means less vulnerability overall (assuming that the diversity doesn't affect the overall quality of the projects --- probably a very optimistic assumption).

Re:how are the terms able to stay secret? (2)

arkenian (1560563) | more than 2 years ago | (#38442032)

The secret is not, as you observed, the amount. But the precise terms. In basic, what Mozilla and google exchange is pretty well known, but the precise terms are I'm sure something they'd rather not confirm. (does google pay by the click, how much? by quota? etc. etc. etc. is all information that google's comptetitors (and, for that matter, other advertising partners) would like to know. Personally, I've always assumed that Google intentionally "overpaid" on the initial transaction to help out Mozilla -- which would make them even more insistent on keeping the precise terms quiet.

Re:how are the terms able to stay secret? (1)

helix2301 (1105613) | more than 2 years ago | (#38447624)

Google is keeping a lot of companies going 121 million to Firefox a year. They give AOL 600 million for 5 years for keyword searches. I am very impressed that Google would keep Firefox deal considering it's Chrome biggest threat. I think Google is trying to prevent a possible anti trust lawsuit.

Re:how are the terms able to stay secret? (2)

shog9 (154858) | more than 2 years ago | (#38477044)

Chrome's biggest threat != Google's biggest threat.

A browser funneling traffic to Google is Google's friend, regardless of the name that appears on it.

Re:how are the terms able to stay secret? (1)

BZ (40346) | more than 2 years ago | (#38454382)

For what it's worth, people seem to consistently underestimate how many people it takes to build a web browser. Opera had over 700 employees as of Feb 2011 (see http://my.opera.com/haavard/blog/2011/02/01/decade [opera.com] ), for example. Other browser makers are at similar or bigger headcounts, almost certainly.

Re:how are the terms able to stay secret? (1)

westlake (615356) | more than 2 years ago | (#38440464)

As a non-profit organization, don't these things eventually have to show up in Mozilla's annual filings?

They do.

If only in an auditor's alert that about 97% of Mozilla's revenues come from a single search-engine source and a contract that is coming up for renewal.

I would be happier if Moz was far less dependent on the add-click.

Re:how are the terms able to stay secret? (5, Insightful)

icebike (68054) | more than 2 years ago | (#38441462)

I would be happier if Moz was far less dependent on the add-click.

Here is a way to make your self very happy: https://donate.mozilla.org/ [mozilla.org]

Come on, now, that PayPal account has a few bucks you don't need for the holidays.
Money > Mouth.

Re:how are the terms able to stay secret? (1)

xkr (786629) | more than 2 years ago | (#38477028)

Non-profits have to file or disclose practically nothing. They have a tiny fraction of the disclosure requirements of public companies. They don't have to disclose how much officers are paid, or revenue sources, or how revenue is spent. They have only to provide a few very broad categories, with lots of wiggle-room even in those categories. They operate under a charter by the state, but there is no adult-supervision, as it were.

Hypocrites (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38439622)

You know, its almost too bad they didn't go down the route of Bing. I still don't get OSS privacy freaks who think MS is teh evil and who
don't seem to have any problems with Google.

Re:Hypocrites (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38439764)

I'll explain. FOSS advocates aren't necessarily privacy freaks, though sometimes they are. If they're very privacy aware, almost undoubtedly they hate Google. I know a few people who are very privacy aware (or "privacy freaks" as you put it) - they all hate Google.
I also know a number of people (and myself too) who are big advocates and contributors to open-source yet are not so paranoid about privacy. Their opinions on Google vary from positive to negative. I like some of their stuff - they're great with open-source - however I dislike how much power they're getting.

Re:Hypocrites (4, Informative)

Shikaku (1129753) | more than 2 years ago | (#38439866)

Also you are free to make duckduckgo your default search on Firefox.

Re:Hypocrites (2)

IwantToKeepAnon (411424) | more than 2 years ago | (#38441348)

Also you are free to make duckduckgo your default search on Firefox.

Or scroogle.org

Re:Hypocrites (1)

perryizgr8 (1370173) | more than 2 years ago | (#38444232)

i heard that duckduckgo=bing?? wikipedia does not have a clue. also the results are quite good, which makes the bing hypothesis quite unlikely. if anyone knows anything about this, i'd like to know.

Re:Hypocrites (1)

SharkLaser (2495316) | more than 2 years ago | (#38446398)

Yes, DuckDuckGo uses Bing as back-end. Which kind of makes the usual slashdot "bing sucks ass" posts kind of funny, especially when the same people are telling how good DuckDuckGo is :)

Re:Hypocrites (1)

Dwonis (52652) | more than 2 years ago | (#38478882)

Yes, DuckDuckGo uses Bing as back-end. Which kind of makes the usual slashdot "bing sucks ass" posts kind of funny,

I tried DuckDuckGo for about a month, but the results sucked ass. Now I know why. :)

Re:Hypocrites (1)

starofale (1976650) | more than 2 years ago | (#38478016)

Not just Bing [duckduckgo.com]

Not a huge surprise... (5, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 2 years ago | (#38439626)

While Firefox's marketshare has been suffering slightly, I can't imagine that the per-seat value of being the default search engine has changed particularly, and FF is probably the competitor from which Google gains the most: FF reliably agrees with them on most major issues, has no significant strength to threaten Google's actually profitable ventures, and no(well, almost no, you could build FF-only XUL webapps; but nobody does) competing application environment.

Microsoft has a browser, a search engine, win32, and silverlight, so they aren't exactly somebody that Google wants gaining ground, Apple has impressive control of certain high margin markets, and an iron grip on their mobile devices. Firefox has a browser. Unless Google has some aesthetic reason to crush anything it can, and risk the wrath of the antitrust guys, Firefox's existence is somewhere between 'harmless' and 'downright convenient'.

Re:Not a huge surprise... (0, Troll)

Billly Gates (198444) | more than 2 years ago | (#38439868)

MS does not have the market power and mindset it did 10 years ago. This is especially true compared to Google. Chrome is proprietary, dart, NACL, SPDY, and special javascript extensions, while IE 10 is the most conforment browser to date.

I would have stuck with Bing. When monopolies lose their power they became nice. When nice companies gain it they became assholes like Apple. Google is too big and a threat to Mozilla's survival. Google's ecosystem includes all their cloud apps where extensions are Chrome OS/Browser applets inside the browser and they use their search engine as a way to force it in.

Remember IBM was the big enemy in the 1980s before MS. I think Mozilla needs to rethink as MS is moving away from silveright, IE 6, and even win32 to a certain extent for mobile users.

Re:Not a huge surprise... (5, Interesting)

Tumbleweed (3706) | more than 2 years ago | (#38440210)

IE 10 is the most conforment browser to date.

IE 10? Please. That thing isn't even beta yet. Never underestimate Microsoft's ability to turn a "completely compliant" pre-release browser into "that which must not be named" upon release.

I like the direction they're going so far, but until it's released, there's no telling what it will REALLY be like.

Re:Not a huge surprise... (4, Informative)

Goaway (82658) | more than 2 years ago | (#38440590)

Chrome is proprietary, dart, NACL, SPDY, and special javascript extensions,

All of these things are entirely open and unencumbered, and free for use by anyone.

Re:Not a huge surprise... (1)

makomk (752139) | more than 2 years ago | (#38446906)

All of these things are entirely open and unencumbered, and free for use by anyone.

I've heard that NaCl actually contains code under a license that forbids redistribution, and it wouldn't surprise me; Google don't seem to care much about getting licensing right. A re-implementation is probably not practical either because it's so complex and dependent on the details of Google's implementation. Mozilla are actually trying to implement SPDY but the spec seems to be basically "what Google does" right now with the formal specification changing rapidly. The only solution to implementing Dart seems to be ripping out your existing JavaScript VM and replacing it with Google's which is just not practical for any browser that doesn't already use Google's VM, so no-one else is going to implement that either.

Re:Not a huge surprise... (1)

Goaway (82658) | more than 2 years ago | (#38466086)

I've heard that NaCl actually contains code under a license that forbids redistribution

Well, you heard wrong.

The only solution to implementing Dart seems to be...

You are not supposed to implement Dart now, it is nowhere near finished.

Re:Not a huge surprise... (1)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 2 years ago | (#38442160)

Chrome is proprietary, dart, NACL, SPDY, and special javascript extensions,

None of those are proprietary in the sense of non-open, though they may be proprietary in the sense of non-standard.

IE 10 is the most conforment browser to date.

IE does the best on a test suite that is composed disproportionately of tests developed and submitted by Microsoft to test the features of the applicable standards that are implemented by IE.

This is somewhat unsurprising, and also somewhat pointless.

Google is too big and a threat to Mozilla's survival.

I don't see it. Nothing that Google derives substantial revenue from is hurt by Firefox, so Google has no reason to be a threat to Firefox.

Google's ecosystem includes all their cloud apps where extensions are Chrome OS/Browser applets and they use their search engine as a way to force it in.

Um, what? This sentence wanders into bizarro world after the word "apps".

Extensions to Google cloud apps are, for the most part, also cloud hosted. There are browser extensions that tie into Google cloud apps, and some of them are Chrome-specific, but they are mostly peripheral to the functionality of the apps, which work on any modern browser.

I think Mozilla needs to rethink as MS is moving away from silveright, IE 6, and even win32 to a certain extent for mobile users.

Is there any indication that Microsoft is interested in writing Mozilla as big a check as Google is? Because if not, your whole "Go with Bing" plan would be opting for a clear, short-term threat to Firefox's viability in order to avoid a very speculative, long-term threat that doesn't have much of a sensible basis.

Re:Not a huge surprise... (1)

perryizgr8 (1370173) | more than 2 years ago | (#38444250)

IE does the best on a test suite that is composed disproportionately of tests developed and submitted by Microsoft to test the features of the applicable standards that are implemented by IE.

i actually tested ie 9 and chrome on sunspider and ie9 won(!). i was extremely surprised but ie9 does better than chrome on a test that chrome devs practically wrote.

Re:Not a huge surprise... (1)

Kjella (173770) | more than 2 years ago | (#38439950)

Of course Chrome has no particular reason to want to kill Firefox, but hey.. it's money they could use on their own browser and get search users they don't pay for, strengthen their own brand and that is 100% loyal to Google and will implement any data gathering they want. Any antitrust case would be far weaker than Microsoft's OS bundling and 95% market share, they're light years away from that being a problem for them so IMO they don't have any huge benefit from keeping them around either. From what I've understood Mozilla's deal has been pretty sweet up until now, seeing as they were Google's weapon to break the IE monopoly. That the deal continues wasn't a surprise, the question is if the deal is as good now that Google has seen how easily they've risen to #2 (at least according to StatCounter) in market share already. Surely somebody there is thinking that they can do this in-house, no big need to prop up other companies.

Re:Not a huge surprise... (2)

Tumbleweed (3706) | more than 2 years ago | (#38440272)

Of course Chrome has no particular reason to want to kill Firefox, but hey.. it's money they could use on their own browser and get search users they don't pay for

Only some of those users would go with Google. Many of them would go to MS. Plus, money not going to Mozilla isn't necessarily going to go to Chrome. Google has enough resources that they don't have to take any from Chrome to give to Mozilla. That would be like God running out of 'space' for his 'stuff'. Not gonna happen.

If nothing else, Google should help out Mozilla so they have some decent competition. Things like lazy tab loading, etc. are pushing Chrome just as much as Chrome is pushing Firefox. Firefox has MUCH better memory performance (3-4x better for me on multiple machines) even before lazy tab loading came along in FF8.

FF is still a better environment for development, and with the use of Tab Mix Plus (and the aforementioned lazy tab loading) is WAY better for those of us who run with a lot of tabs open. The extensions for FF are still far more numerous and more polished than those for Chrome.

Re:Not a huge surprise... (1)

tbannist (230135) | more than 2 years ago | (#38447486)

Of course Chrome has no particular reason to want to kill Firefox, but hey.. it's money they could use on their own browser and get search users they don't pay for, strengthen their own brand and that is 100% loyal to Google and will implement any data gathering they want.

That's pointy-haired boss logic. The truth of the matter is if Google cuts funding for Firefox they will get a public relations mess and they will lose revenue from current Firefox users. Even worse, one of Google's competitors will get that revenue instead. For example, it could suddenly make Bing "a contender" for top search engine if Firefox went to Bing instead, even a handful of news stories about Bing's sudden market share increase would cost Google money, because there's not much lock in on "search engine". Google has a win-win deal with Mozilla, because they both profit from it. Google has no real incentive to break the deal unless Firefox's market share falls so low that they are no longer relevant. If it's true that Opera has a similar deal with Google, then Firefox would probably have to be south of 1% market share before Google would even consider cutting them loose.

Re:Not a huge surprise... (1)

yuhong (1378501) | more than 2 years ago | (#38440448)

Not to mention XUL webapp support was removed in FF4 anyway.

Re:Not a huge surprise... (2)

RebelWebmaster (628941) | more than 2 years ago | (#38442288)

It's still supported on an opt-in basis. But given that it was prone to numerous security holes and was unused by the vast majority of the web-facing population, the decision was made that it made more sense for those who need it to explicitly turn it on (whitelisted, no less) rather than exposing all users to the risks that come with it.

Re:Not a huge surprise... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38441032)

FF is probably the competitor from which Google gains the most

Google doesn't consider FF a competitor.

Nor Safari. Nor Opera. Nor even IE. Well, maybe older versions of IE which are arguably harmful to the web. Google doesn't make Chrome to take over the browser market, Google makes Chrome to spur innovation in browsers and, more specifically, to push that innovation in directions which Google feels are helpful to make the web a first-class computing platform, because that's Google's platform. If web apps become the dominant form of application software, then Google no longer has to worry about Microsoft or Apple exploiting their OS platform to lock Google out.

Google made all this pretty clear when Chrome was first released. The whole purpose of Chrome at the beginning was to make a browser that had a really fast Javascript engine, in order to make all of the other browsers invest in speeding up their Javascript engines -- so Google's apps would run better and could do more. Subsidiary goals were to make the overall browser experience faster and more stable, and to remove as much cruft as possible from the browser interface so that web apps had more real estate and less OS-based stuff around them.

Now, Chrome has moved to pushing HTML5 implementation quality and performance, and Google is beginning to experiment with using it to push new web technologies, like Dart, NaCl and SPDY -- not to lock people into Chrome, but, again, to make the web a better platform. That's why Google is publishing specs and talking to other browser makers about adopting these technologies into their browsers (with little success so far), because Google wants to be able to use this stuff on all browsers.

What Google wants to achieve is a world where it doesn't matter what device, or OS, or browser you're using, web apps -- especially but not only Google's -- can at least as well as any platform-specific app. Many find it hard to believe that Google would invest so much money in Chrome and Android purely as a way of breaking potential lock-ins and walled gardens by other players in the market, but that's really what those are all about. Googlers are confident (arrogant may be a better word) that given a level playing field, Google will win, because they're just that good. So, it's worth doing some pretty big things just to keep anyone from being able to lock up the computing platforms again.

So Google's patronage of Firefox is about two things: Maintaining browser diversity to make it even harder for MS to engage in lock-in tactics and revenue. Probably not in that order. Google's agreement with Mozilla buys Google a lot of search page views on which to sell ads. It's undoubtedly a net profit-maker for Google, and one that furthers Google's larger goals for the web platform ecosystem as well.

The only surprising thing about this move was that MS didn't outbid Google -- but then I could see the Mozilla folks being a little leery of MS, so it may not have been a straight bidding war.

Re:Not a huge surprise... (1)

BZ (40346) | more than 2 years ago | (#38454450)

> Google doesn't consider FF a competitor.

The search team at Google doesn't consider FF a competitor, probably. Other teams at Google (e.g. the ones trying to create Chrome-only content silos or actively creating and maintaining WebKit-only web content), it's not clear.

I wouldn't treat "Google" as a terribly monolithic entity for purposes of claims of what is or is not considered.

> Chrome has moved to pushing HTML5
> implementation quality and performance

Chrome has moved to pushing certain things Google cares about and labeling those as "HTML5". Which is not quite the same thing. There are plenty of things that Chrome is not implementing and not planning to implement that other browsers support and that might be good for the web platform. But Google happens to not care about them.

> not to lock people into Chrome, but, again, to
> make the web a better platform

Seriously? Then why is the Angry birds "chrome app" being marketed as Chrome-only? Why is Chromebook-specific content being encouraged? Why do Google engineers create Google web apps that only work in WebKit?

I think you described "Google's" general viewpoint on web stuff as of 2 years ago or so. It's changed a lot since then, sadly.

> The only surprising thing about this move was that
> MS didn't outbid Google

The default browser setting in Firefox depends on what users want, not on who pays the most money.

This is why Google is not default in the Russian localization of Firefox, for example (Yandex is), and why Google wasn't the default in the Chinese localization for a while until their Chinese search results got better.

Re:Not a huge surprise... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38475356)

(Not the OP)

not to lock people into Chrome, but, again, to make the web a better platform

Seriously? Then why is the Angry birds "chrome app" being marketed as Chrome-only? Why is Chromebook-specific content being encouraged? Why do Google engineers create Google web apps that only work in WebKit?

I think you described "Google's" general viewpoint on web stuff as of 2 years ago or so. It's changed a lot since then, sadly.

You seem to be building a case that Google profits from Chrome in a way that has nothing to do with improving the web in general. Could you cut to the chase and share your theory here? Microsoft developed IE as a way to lock people in to using Windows. Why is Google trying to lock people into using Chrome?

How does this benefit Google long-term? (1)

LastGunslinger (1976776) | more than 2 years ago | (#38439642)

I thought this would be Google's chance to kill Firefox. Not many other search providers for Mozilla to run to. Microsoft can attempt to tie IE and Bing together and Google can tie Chrome and Google search. Firefox is left out in the cold to whither and die like Netscape. Probably not good for the consumer, but such is the way of things.

Re:How does this benefit Google long-term? (3, Insightful)

Millennium (2451) | more than 2 years ago | (#38439696)

Google is coming under increasing scrutiny from the antitrust folks, and funding an open-source competitor in the browser space makes it look better. A better image can be worth quite a lot of money when lawyers are involved.

Re:How does this benefit Google long-term? (2)

Monkey-Man2000 (603495) | more than 2 years ago | (#38439968)

Google is coming under increasing scrutiny from the antitrust folks, and funding an open-source competitor in the browser space makes it look better. A better image can be worth quite a lot of money when lawyers are involved.

Also, Google would probably lose a fair amount of marketshare to Bing if Firefox switched to MS as they were threatening to do.

Re:How does this benefit Google long-term? (2)

somersault (912633) | more than 2 years ago | (#38440080)

They don't seem to be destructively-competitive douchebags like most companies. They compete, but in a positive manner. Whether that's all an act, or genuine, I suppose it doesn't really matter as long as they keep it up.

I do remember some issue about them bundling their Bluetooth or GPS stack or something on Android, but that's about it. It seemed to me a silly thing to get upset about. I also think it was silly for MS to get into trouble for "bundling" IE with Windows. Why does nobody mind them bundling the Calculator app or Notepad and Wordpad? There are just some things that you expect to come along with an OS for it to be useful out of the box..

Re:How does this benefit Google long-term? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38440436)

Windows didn't allow full integration of 3rd party browsers into the OS. Obviously bundling wasn't the issue or IE wouldn't ship with windows today if it was.

Re:How does this benefit Google long-term? (2)

tbannist (230135) | more than 2 years ago | (#38447534)

If it weren't for George Bush's interference in the anti-trust case against Microsoft, IE probably wouldn't be the default browser in Windows. The issue wasn't just bundling IE, it was the bundling along with all of the other stuff they did, especially the endless emails obsessing over how to destroy Netscape because web browsers represented a potential threat to their operating system monopoly. In the end not much was done, because Microsoft literally bought a pardon from Bush with campaign donations.

Re:How does this benefit Google long-term? (1)

Millennium (2451) | more than 2 years ago | (#38440758)

They don't seem to be destructively-competitive douchebags like most companies. They compete, but in a positive manner. Whether that's all an act, or genuine, I suppose it doesn't really matter as long as they keep it up.

Perhaps, but "most companies" pretty much ruined monopolies for everybody, even those who might wish to run them in a more benevolent manner. Google can stick to "don't be evil" all it wants, but the lawyers won't care, and so other methods are needed.

I also think it was silly for MS to get into trouble for "bundling" IE with Windows. Why does nobody mind them bundling the Calculator app or Notepad and Wordpad?

Because these are trivial programs, more demonstrations of the UI than anything else.

There are just some things that you expect to come along with an OS for it to be useful out of the box.

Browsing isn't one of them, as was clearly demonstrated at the time. That has since changed, but only because Microsoft legitimized it.

Re:How does this benefit Google long-term? (1)

Malvineous (1459757) | more than 2 years ago | (#38441452)

Plus, by almost entirely funding their competitor (and making them reliant on that funding), it will be very easy to make them go away if they should ever become a problem.

Duck Duck GO (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38439708)

The Mozilla Foundation will continue as a charity no matter what happens to the Mozilla Corporation. So no, not anything like Netscape.

Re:How does this benefit Google long-term? (1)

Synerg1y (2169962) | more than 2 years ago | (#38439834)

You know you can still go to http://www.google.com/ [google.com] right?

Re:How does this benefit Google long-term? (1)

BenoitRen (998927) | more than 2 years ago | (#38440182)

We know that. The common (wo)man doesn't know they can type web addresses in the location bar. They go everywhere using Google's search box.

Re:How does this benefit Google long-term? (1)

marcosdumay (620877) | more than 2 years ago | (#38440330)

If the people around me are representative, common people don't know how to use the search bar. They either type the google's address, or ask somebody to set it as their homepage.

Re:How does this benefit Google long-term? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38439850)

Fortunately, the calculations still apparently favor not killing Firefox. While Google would prefer people being on Chrome, FF is pretty good for Google too. Maybe they've just estimated and weighted the number of users from a killed off FF coming to Chrome and going to IE and others and come up with better numbers for keeping FF alive?

Maybe Mozilla's agenda is also somewhat aligned with that of Google, at the moment, so having a big and healthy ally in lobbying for certain policies may be good for the bottom line as well.

Any other reasons for Google to keep Mozilla/FF around?

Re:How does this benefit Google long-term? (1)

marcosdumay (620877) | more than 2 years ago | (#38440390)

Any other reasons for Google to keep Mozilla/FF around?

Why did Google write Chrome in the first place? To get people out of IE. What is the browser that gets most people out of IE? (Hint, it is not Chrome, Chrome gets people out of Firefox mainly.)

Re:How does this benefit Google long-term? (4, Informative)

RebelWebmaster (628941) | more than 2 years ago | (#38442216)

(Hint, it is not Chrome, Chrome gets people out of Firefox mainly.)

I would disagree with that statement. While Firefox has lost a bit of market share to Chrome, most of Chrome's gains have come at the expense of IE. Look at the trends.
http://arstechnica.com/business/news/2011/12/internet-explorer-stops-its-slide-as-chrome-nears-firefox.ars [arstechnica.com]

Re:How does this benefit Google long-term? (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 2 years ago | (#38439962)

Except Google wouldn't have killed Firefox, it's likely that, one way or the other, Microsoft would have gobbled Firefox up. This is pure strategy. Better to basically prop up Microsoft's other major web competitor than to let it get swallowed up by Redmond.

Re:How does this benefit Google long-term? (2)

RebelWebmaster (628941) | more than 2 years ago | (#38442318)

How exactly would Microsoft "gobble Firefox up"? It's an open-source browser put out by a non-profit organization.

Re:How does this benefit Google long-term? (2)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 2 years ago | (#38442344)

That gets most of its funding from a Big Company.

Re:How does this benefit Google long-term? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38440002)

"I thought this would be Google's chance to kill Firefox."

Why should they ? Firefox is just healthy competition for Chrome and this situation proved to be mutually beneficial. I never questioned the continued support that Google would give Firefox: Google has strong bonds with the open source community and know what's good for them...

Re:How does this benefit Google long-term? (3, Insightful)

djh2400 (1362925) | more than 2 years ago | (#38440254)

A commenter on a previous "Google might kill Firefox/Mozilla by not renewing default search agreement" provided a link to the following article, which I found to be an interesting read, and I would also recommend it:

http://www.extremetech.com/internet/92558-how-browsers-make-money-or-why-google-needs-firefox [extremetech.com]

In short, if Google stopped giving Mozilla the relatively small (relative to their annual profits) amount of money for each period, do you really think Microsoft would wait more than 5 seconds to snatch up such an opportunity to fill in the gap by paying an equal amount? Microsoft would love to get the current Firefox "default search" volume which is directed at Google and instead have it directed toward Bing. If Google stopped paying Mozilla, it seems reasonable to expect some other company like Microsoft to take over the cost in the blink of an eye.

Re:How does this benefit Google long-term? (5, Insightful)

Daetrin (576516) | more than 2 years ago | (#38440294)

Why would Google want to kill Firefox? They don't make a profit directly from Chrome, they make money off of people using Chrome to go to Google pages where they'll be served ads. If people are using Firefox instead but still going to Google pages Google still makes just as much money. If they were somehow able to kill Firefox then some of the ex-Firefox users would move to Chrome, but some would move to IE or Safari or who knows what else.

Re:How does this benefit Google long-term? (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38442338)

If Firefox dies, I'm switching back to Lynx.

Re:How does this benefit Google long-term? (1)

marcosdumay (620877) | more than 2 years ago | (#38440296)

Why would Google want to kill Firefox?

Chrome doesn't generate revenue, and while it would be better (for Google) if all people using Firefox switched to Chrome, they wouldn't. Google would risk giving a lot of customers for Microsoft, and they fear that more than they fear paying some independent 3rd party.

If Google sees another browser taking users from both Chrome and IE, don't be surprized if they supported it.

Re:How does this benefit Google long-term? (2)

Goaway (82658) | more than 2 years ago | (#38440668)

Google's relationship to Mozilla is basically, "We like what you're doing, but we think we can do better". They have no reason to want Firefox gone, at least not as long as it uses them as the default search engine.

Re:How does this benefit Google long-term? (1)

swframe (646356) | more than 2 years ago | (#38442196)

Actually, google said, "Mozilla, can we work with you to make firefox radically better?" and Mozilla said "no, we have our own ideas and we don't want you telling us what to do!" and so google created Chrome with the goal of forcing all the vendors to make their browsers better. Sure javascipt performance improvements have been great but can we get a little type safe, pretty please? Writing more than 100K lines of javascript without any type checking is so 1970.

Re:How does this benefit Google long-term? (1)

RebelWebmaster (628941) | more than 2 years ago | (#38442320)

Actually, google said, "Mozilla, can we work with you to make firefox radically better?" and Mozilla said "no, we have our own ideas and we don't want you telling us what to do!" and so google created Chrome with the goal of forcing all the vendors to make their browsers better.

[citation please]

Re:How does this benefit Google long-term? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38443148)

And then Mozilla was all "no you din't!!!" and then Google was all like "BOOYAH". And Mozilla went "Aw HELL NAW", and Google went "dolla dolla bill. HOLLA'".

Source: http://myownass/the-history-of-firefox-vs-chrome/ [myownass]

Re:How does this benefit Google long-term? (1)

schroedingers_hat (2449186) | more than 2 years ago | (#38450424)

Why have type safety when you can have type coercion? Actually knowing how your variables are represented isn't trendy these days.

Re:How does this benefit Google long-term? (2)

Vellmont (569020) | more than 2 years ago | (#38440814)


I thought this would be Google's chance to kill Firefox.

Why in the world would Google want to kill Firefox? Google is an advertising company. They make money on people using the web. Google killing Firefox would be like NBC killing RCA. Sure, Google makes a browser that competes with Firefox, but that's only to encourage more web usage. It's in Google's best interests to drive the web forward, and that means browsers need to continue to evolve.


Microsoft can attempt to tie IE and Bing together and Google can tie Chrome and Google search.

And either one of them could pay Mozilla to change its default search provider to them. Do you think Bing wants to pull more search traffic away from Google? Of course they do.

Re:How does this benefit Google long-term? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38451330)

Do you want to make more search traffic? Sure, we all do!

Re:How does this benefit Google long-term? (1)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 2 years ago | (#38441960)

I thought this would be Google's chance to kill Firefox. Not many other search providers for Mozilla to run to. Microsoft can attempt to tie IE and Bing together and Google can tie Chrome and Google search. Firefox is left out in the cold to whither and die like Netscape.

One of Google's key interests is encouraging apps to be built on open web technologies rather than OS/browser specific ones (especially ones that are specific to someone else's OS/browser.)

Every competing desktop browser with non-negligible marketshare advances that interest. If Firefox vanished and half its marketshare went to IE and half to Chrome, that would be a loss for Google, not a gain.

Re:How does this benefit Google long-term? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38442082)

I thought this would be Google's chance to kill Firefox.

They have no motive to kill firefox.

Google wants users to have a great browser. They want this badly enough that they are paying hundreds of engineers to work on Chrome. If someone else builds a great browser, I am sure they can think of other things for those engineers to do.

Wow, shocker (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38440188)

It appears that Google will not cut off an arrangement that drives millions of users to its profit-generating, ad-showing search engine. This is despite speculation by some brain-dead observers who had suggested that Google would ditch this source of money in favor of promoting Chrome, a project which generates no direct revenue at all.

Re:Wow, shocker (2)

rudy_wayne (414635) | more than 2 years ago | (#38440704)

some brain-dead observers who had suggested that Google would ditch this source of money in favor of promoting Chrome, a project which generates no direct revenue at all.

How does Firefox generate revenue for Google but Chrome does not? They both do exactly the same thing -- people go to Google to search, where they are subjected to ads, which is where Google makes 98% of its money. Google has very deep pockets but it still seems strange that they are willing to pay $100 Million a year . . . . for what exactly? People who type a search query into that little Google search box in Firefox because they are too lazy and/or stupid to bookmark google.com?

Re:Wow, shocker (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38441024)

You realize that you have just described 99% of people, right? You know that you and the nerds you know are not a very good representation of the entire population, right? You know about selection bias, right? Right?

Re:Wow, shocker (1)

BZ (40346) | more than 2 years ago | (#38454468)

People who don't want to waste the time to load google.com. It's a lot faster to have one server round-trip than two, esp. on high-latency (e.g. mobile) networks.

If I was a search provider (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38440680)

I'd make the terms of agreement that they blacklist ad-block and force them to use a real interface with status bar and http:// display and not hide the forward button. Also I'd make them accountable for memory leaks and cpu hangs.

It's a disgrace that Mozilla is getting all this money and yet put out a poor browser and encourage their users to bite the hand that feeds them by using tools like adblock which damages the economy and people wonder why laws like SOPA (ad blocking is piracy) are being made.

Re:If I was a search provider (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38443686)

I agree, there are too many cocksucking ad-blockers who deny revenue during a recession and wonder why there are now paywalls. I bet most ad blockers are leeches who still live rent free with their parents and have no idea of the real world.

Re:If I was a search provider (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38446262)

google chrome hides the statusbar und the http://, so why should google force firefox not to hide it?

Terms of the agreement? Ad blocking issues? (0)

Animats (122034) | more than 2 years ago | (#38440942)

It's amazing how few people change their default search provider. That's why this matters so much. Most of Bing's traffic comes from IE's default search box. Google pays Apple something like $100 million a year to be the default search provider on the iPhone.

I'm a little worried about the terms of the agreement not being disclosed. We're launching a search ad blocker [sitetruth.com] that removes all but one ad per page on Google. Bing, and Yahoo search results. We're trying to re-introduce the idea that most of the screen space should be content, not ads, and we put some teeth into that idea with ad blockers. (Yes, you can block all the search ads if you want.)

The first version is a Firefox add-on, and has to go through the Mozilla approval process. It will be interesting to see if "problems" develop there. The controversial new, "soft" version of AdBlock apparently doesn't block Google search ads, while ours does.

Re:Terms of the agreement? Ad blocking issues? (1)

noahm (4459) | more than 2 years ago | (#38476140)

I'm a little worried about the terms of the agreement not being disclosed. We're launching a search ad blocker that removes all but one ad per page on Google. Bing, and Yahoo search results. We're trying to re-introduce the idea that most of the screen space should be content, not ads, and we put some teeth into that idea with ad blockers. (Yes, you can block all the search ads if you want.)

I used to work for Mozilla. One thing I can say with confidence is that Mozilla would not have signed this agreement if it restricted their freedom in such a way that they'd start blocking ad blockers or other plugins. Mozilla is very much focused on user control, and is not going to let a third party restrict what a user can do with their software. Google and Mozilla have definitely not always agreed in the past, and I'm sure Mozilla will continue doing things that it believes are in the end-user's best interest. Keep in mind that Mozilla introduced the Do-Not-Track http header, which which Google (last I knew anyway) still hasn't added to Chrome.

noah

3 more years of cleaning google-ssl.xml (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38441962)

So in essence what you mean is we have three more years of hand editing the google-ssl.xml, the google-us.xml files.

Isn't this illegal? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38442470)

How can a company with monopoly market share PAY people to use their product?

Seems entirely illegal.

Undesirable Functionality (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38442890)

I don't want my browser to do anything other than resolve a hostname and try to connect to it as a web site when I type it into the browser's URL field. Anything other than that isn't much different than having a keylogger installed.

Google buying marketshare again. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38443368)

First the deal with Dell to make it default and now with Firefox. And many more that I can't recall offhand.
If everyone was "going to use it anyway" and "people actively choose Google over competitors" I don't think any sane business would waste hundreds of millions of dollars.

 

still use Firefox because few plug-ins (1)

wik33 (2505880) | more than 2 years ago | (#38444588)

The deal says it’s for at least another three years. This duration is too enough for the development of Chrome to functioning like Firefox. I use many Google futures which take great support by Chrome but still use Firefox because few plug-ins.
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