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Mozilla Contemplates a Future Without Google 200

Posted by Soulskill
from the don't-leave-baby dept.
An anonymous reader points out a story at Business Week which begins: "Mozilla Chair Mitchell Baker says the Chrome browser is making the foundation behind Firefox rethink its reliance on revenues from Google. Since Google introduced its own Web browser, Chrome, the prospect that Google may not re-up the three-year contract set to expire in 2011 has Mozilla considering other search partnerships and ways to generate revenue, Baker said. 'There are probably other search engines that would pay us more money,' Baker says. Yahoo! and Microsoft's MSN, Google's two main search rivals, come to mind, but Baker says smaller search engines wouldn't be discounted should such a situation arise. One player Baker won't identify 'offered a blank check to replace Google,' she says. Set to launch on certain Nokia phones in late spring, Fennec is the first Mozilla browser optimized for mobile platforms. If it gains traction with enough handset makers and mobile users, Fennec could represent another way to draw revenue from a partnering search engine."
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Mozilla Contemplates a Future Without Google

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  • Not bloody likely (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 12, 2009 @12:33PM (#27168659)

    The most likely future for Mozilla is a continued partnership with Google. If Google ends its deal with Firefox, Google would be cutting itself off from the only viable challenger to IE. After all, Chrome only recently passed 1% in share of browser use.

    Google needs Mozilla to keep putting the bones to Redmond.

    • If Google ends its deal with Firefox, Google would be cutting itself off from the only viable challenger to IE. After all, Chrome only recently passed 1% in share of browser use.

      Silliest statement ever.

      Chrome isn't ready. But when it is, Google can change the numbers overnight.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        "GMail will no longer be available for your browser after July 10, 2009. Download the latest Chrome browser for the best operating experience."

        I'd probably get Chrome for Gmail and Google Voice and keep FF/Safari for other stuff. But 90% of GMail's target audience wouldn't.

        • I'd probably get Chrome for Gmail and Google Voice and keep FF/Safari for other stuff. But 90% of GMail's target audience wouldn't

          Which is why Google wouldn't do that. But they have the marketing power to push Chrome in the same way that they pushed FireFox. As well, Mozilla is fooling themselves: Whithout Google money, they will dry up and blow away.

          • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

            by Patch86 (1465427)

            Software with a 25% market share isn't going to disappear over night just because their main sponsor backs out. That 25% who use Firefox now are going to keep doing so, until something actively changes their mind.

            Google can certainly do a good job of changing people's minds if it tries, though, and it's something Mozilla will need to be ready to fight against. While they won't disappear over night, they can still be beaten by the competition just as easily as anyone else.

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by whereiswaldo (459052)

            What kind of cash burn are Mozilla going through anyway? Sounds like it must be high. Is there a way to significantly lower this figure? Is it mostly advertising?

            Maybe the default search engine should be randomly chosen when a new window is created. If you want to be on the list, throw in some amount of money. The percentage of times your search comes up depends on your percentage of cash donated.

            I also want to state that Mozilla should have user's best interests at heart and should be wary of Google's

        • by Chyeld (713439) <chyeld AT gmail DOT com> on Thursday March 12, 2009 @12:58PM (#27169075)

          And 50% of the folk out there would install Chrome long enough to switch their gmail to forward to a new address, and start work finding another free webmail site.

          And 100% of the corps using Google Apps for Domains would tie up the support lines to rip Google's techs a new one.

          And the next day we'd be crowning Bobco, a division of Algamated Inc., the new King of the Internet.

        • by billcopc (196330) <vrillco@yahoo.com> on Thursday March 12, 2009 @01:10PM (#27169285) Homepage

          Or, you know, someone would create a 2-second Firefox add-on that spoofs Chrome, and Google would gain nothing.

        • by geekoid (135745)

          If that was true, on July 11th I wouldn't be using gmail anymore.

  • Carte blanche? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Chabil Ha' (875116) on Thursday March 12, 2009 @12:33PM (#27168661)

    One player Baker won't identify 'offered a blank check to replace Google,' she says.

    Looking at the ocean of limping or necro-corps, there seemeth to be only one company that has the pocket to stomach carte blanche...

    Could you imagine Live! Search being the default search engine of Firefox? Hiss! The thought near gives me the willies.

    • meh, live search is fine in itself. But I hope yahoo would take that deal. Yahoo is still a good tech company just needs some re-org.
    • by BlackSnake112 (912158) on Thursday March 12, 2009 @12:49PM (#27168935)

      If you use windows and have updated java did you notice that is asks you if you want to install the msn toolbar?

      I actually took a screen shot of it. Then went to a window to see if the apocalypse was happening. Sun working with microsoft?!

       

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by despisethesun (880261)
        Must be recent, because I updated Java on a machine earlier this week and it still asked about the Yahoo toolbar.
      • I updated at home, downloading directly, and it asked me to install Yahoo Toolbar.
        I updated at work, pushed out corporate, and it asked me to install MSN Toolbar.

        Anyone know why the difference?

        Either way I think it completely sucks. As a Java developer who tries to maintain a professional image, I don't like having to ask my clients to install software that comes bundled with crapware.

        • Either way I think it completely sucks. As a Java developer who tries to maintain a professional image, I don't like having to ask my clients to install software that comes bundled with crapware.

          I wouldn't worry this early in the game. Java is an industry standard. But if things do get ugly, try IcedTea/OpenJDK.

      • by comm2k (961394)
        Yes.
        http://port25.technet.com/archive/2008/11/10/sun-to-distribute-live-search.aspx [technet.com]
        Sun must be desperate for money?!
    • One player Baker won't identify 'offered a blank check to replace Google,' she says.

      Looking at the ocean of limping or necro-corps, there seemeth to be only one company that has the pocket to stomach carte blanche...

      Could you imagine Live! Search being the default search engine of Firefox? Hiss! The thought near gives me the willies.

      These comments always surprise me. Why is it that people on slashdot have such a vested interest in the default behavior of various programs? Don't all of us know how to customize everything we use to suit our needs?

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Chabil Ha' (875116)

        If by 'us' you mean /.ers, no I'm not worried, but it's the teaming, mindless masses that accept as default whatever is placed before them. That's what Opera's (and now Mozilla's) hissyfit in the EU is all about with IE. Because people are not *presented* a choice they stick with the Big Blue E.

        On the flip side, I do congratulate Microsoft (heresy!) on the post-installation launch of IE 7 where it *asks* you if you want Live Search to be the default or choose from an extensive list of providers.

    • Could you imagine Live! Search being the default search engine of Firefox? Hiss! The thought near gives me the willies.

      Why? I mean, once "it's not Google" is established, does it really matter what it's going to be?

    • by charlesnw (843045)
      Ah but think of this.... MS writes a check for a couple hundred million to the mozilla foundation in exchange for default search being live.com. Mozilla uses that money to fund numerous open source projects. quid pro pro.
    • Not Microsoft (Score:4, Informative)

      by dakirw (831754) on Thursday March 12, 2009 @06:37PM (#27174515)
      According to the article:

      One player Baker won't identify "offered a blank check to replace Google," she says. She notes it wasn't Microsoft.

      • Assuming she isn't lying about the blank check to begin with, what makes you so sure that she's telling the truth about that?

        "The lady doth protest too much, methinks."

  • by rel4x (783238) on Thursday March 12, 2009 @12:33PM (#27168673)
    I can't believe Google will let the contract expire. If for no other reason because it would take one of their competitors and probably at least double their market share. And that's not even counting the loss of the incredible branding they get from Mozilla.
    • by AresTheImpaler (570208) on Thursday March 12, 2009 @12:56PM (#27169029)
      can't believe Google will let the contract expire. If for no other reason because it would take one of their competitors and probably at least double their market share.

      I agree.. Google has a strong iphone (and ipod touch) connection while still having android. Apparently they also pay apple to be the search engine of choice for safari. So, I'm pretty sure they will gladly pay Mozilla while continue working on Chrome.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      Yes - that is what I originally thought. But Mozilla would rather be prepared for the situation happening rather than it taking them by surprise!
    • by tobiasly (524456) on Thursday March 12, 2009 @02:55PM (#27171029) Homepage

      I can't believe Google will let the contract expire.

      They won't. This is how CEOs of companies communicate with each other: through the media. These statements are for Google's benefit only. She is telling them: don't think about trying to use Chrome as leverage in our search agreements, because we have plenty of other options. Why the hell else would she make that "blank check" comment? It serves absolutely no other purpose than sending a message to Google.

      Another example of this was Steve Jobs' "offhanded" remark that iPhones would never run Flash. He was sending Adobe a message: we don't need you, so don't even think of trying to charge us to put your "ubiquitous" runtime on our phones. We'll take it for free though, thank you very much.

  • I find this quite confusing. Is this story implying that Mozilla will trash the Firefox search capabilities if someone comes up with enough money to merit the demolition? If I were Google, and wanted Chrome to replace Firefox, I might be willing to pay Mozilla myself to remove Google search from the product.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by rel4x (783238)
      Other search engines have similar user satisfaction ratings as Google.(Source) [searchenginewatch.com].
      Yahoo is just too incompetent as a company to leverage it (try to advertise on Yahoo, and you'll see what I mean).
      • I call shenanigans (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Rix (54095)
        For most of those search engines, most people would simply never have heard of them.

        Switching the default search could really hurt Mozilla if Chrome matures by 2011.
      • Your page was from 2007 (and highly suspicious anyway). Let's try a 2008 page [searchengineland.com] and a couple of 2009 [searchenginewatch.com] sites [searchenginewatch.com].
        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by pseudonomous (1389971)
          The GP wasn't talking about market-share, the GP was talking about reported user satisfaction, which isn't neccessarily linked to market-share.
  • Yahoo? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by MrCrassic (994046) <deprecated@[ ].il ['ema' in gap]> on Thursday March 12, 2009 @12:37PM (#27168741) Journal
    Could this be a good way for Yahoo to gain some ground in the search engine market again? Or is it more likely that Mozilla will find a smaller party to latch on to?

    Either way, I think Google was a significant player in making Mozilla much more successful, especially with Firefox. They did promote it initially after all.
  • by rxmd (205533) on Thursday March 12, 2009 @12:38PM (#27168751) Homepage

    'There are probably other search engines that would pay us more money,' Baker says. Yahoo! and Microsoft's MSN, Google's two main search rivals, come to mind

    Well, MSN doesn't really come at least to my mind when I think of a search engine that could sponsor Firefox development.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Frosty Piss (770223)

      Well, MSN doesn't really come at least to my mind when I think of a search engine that could sponsor Firefox development...

      Really?

      *Embrace* , extend, extinguish? Stranger things have happened, and the IE engine dies with IE8.

      • by Xtravar (725372)

        I think with Google being the dominant player on the block, Microsoft has been trying a lot of new things. I expect MS to be more and more friendly as the trend continues. Of course, there will always be the bad memories.

        It's like they're finally waking up and realizing they can't control the market anymore, so they have to play nice.

      • the IE engine dies with IE8.

        Let's be honest... the IE engine has been dead for years, they just forgot to bury it...

      • *Embrace* , extend, extinguish? Stranger things have happened, and the IE engine dies with IE8.

        And being replaced by another of their own products.

  • by Dan667 (564390) on Thursday March 12, 2009 @12:38PM (#27168755)
    I would be surprised if Google would not want to stick with Mozilla. I have always viewed Chrome as Google's attempt to push browser technology. More ways to get to Google Search makes them more money. Dumping Mozilla and replacing them with a fledgling browser does not.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      You forget, firefox has adblock, chrome does not. Google used to be good, or at the very least, did no evil, until they released an IPO, now they're like microsoft, but with a better pr department.
      • by fyrewulff (702920)

        You forget, firefox has adblock, chrome does not. Google used to be good, or at the very least, did no evil, until they released an IPO, now they're like microsoft, but with a better pr department.

        Yeah, Firefox didn't have adblock out the gate either. Chrome will have one once there's an extension system.

        Real geeks filter out ads before they get to the browser using their router, so they don't get ads on any device or browser on their network ;)

        • by bazorg (911295)

          Chrome will have one once there's an extension system.

          And what if Google Chrome gets a gApplication gStore instead of an extension system?

    • by hkmwbz (531650)
      Actually, if Chrome takes over for Firefox, Google gets 100% of the search revenue. Right now, they have to pay a lot of money to Mozilla.
  • by Chyeld (713439) <chyeld AT gmail DOT com> on Thursday March 12, 2009 @12:52PM (#27168967)

    of getting into bed with people simply to be in position to stab them in the back while they sleep.

    The only way I see Google dropping funding for Firefox is when Firefox starts fumbling to the point where they are no longer relevant.

    What would the purpose be? Just because Google has their own browser now, it has no where near the marketshare of even FireFox. And you know that any severing in ties between Mozilla and Google will result in a backlash, regardless of the reasons for the break.

    When the landscape is down to just FireFox and Chrome as the 'relevant' browsers, then I'd worry. But right now? Google isn't as short sighted as Microsoft, they don't pull that sort of petty shit.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by DerekLyons (302214)

      Unlike Microsoft, Google doesn't have a record of getting into bed with people simply to be in position to stab them in the back while they sleep.

      Not renewing a contract isn't stabbing someone in the back. Google isn't bound to Mozilla permanently legally, ethically, or morally.
       
      Google does have a record however of doing things half ass and then leaving them adrift.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by rm999 (775449)

      Exactly. Google will do the profitable thing, which is to stay with Mozilla. It doesn't matter that Chrome now exists; Firefox most likely generates more revenue for Google than Mozilla makes from all sources combined.

      There is nothing stopping Chrome and Google's deal with Mozilla from coexisting. As long as all web browsers lead to Google's search engine, Google will be happy. It is Internet Explorer they want to destroy. And they have been successful, Chrome apparently is stealing more users from IE (http

      • by hkmwbz (531650)

        Firefox most likely generates more revenue for Google than Mozilla makes from all sources combined.

        But with Firefox, Google has to share revenue with Mozilla. With Chrome, Google gets everything.

    • Q: Why is starting a comment in the Subject: line annoying?
      • by Chyeld (713439)

        True, I thought about repeating the subject line but then realized that someone would report me to the department of redundancy department.

  • It seems to me that Google supports Mozilla to get it's search at the default for Firefox and to make Google the default search for as many people as possible. The fact that they are making their own browser doesn't effect this.

    The only reason Google would stop supporting Mozilla is if Firefox where to have a dramatic loss in market share to some other browser, not necessarily Chrome.

  • Silly For Both (Score:4, Insightful)

    by somethinghollow (530478) on Thursday March 12, 2009 @01:10PM (#27169279) Homepage Journal
    Google would be silly not to renew.
    1. Firefox users make up a huge market of potential revenue.
    2. Chrome users + Firefox users make up an even bigger market.
    3. Chrome users make up a much smaller market than Firefox users.
    4. It may put hurt on the Mozilla foundation, which may effectively kill a great standards based browser. That doesn't mesh well with what I understand to be the goals of Google.

    If they do, I can't imagine the majority of Firefox users leaving the default search in place. Rather, they would set it to Google anyway. So, unless the new default is really compelling, Mozilla won't benefit much, anyway (unless they get paid JUST for having it as default, not based on how many queries are run).
    • Google creates Chrome to embrace web browsing.
      Google creates functionality that only works on Chrome, extending functionality of the web to google.
      Firefox gets extinguished, because Chrome in a lot of ways is just as good as Firefox, but Chrome has this little extra bit

      Google has a dominant market share in the web search market... DO NOT put this past even the likes of Google. Watch them incredibly close. The moment they cross, a public outcry should go out to the DoJ to start an investigation right away.

  • I'm going to throw it out there, but FireFox is in trouble unless another big corp comes to the rescue. Open source is fine for cobbling together systems made of tiny little programs all doing their own thing, but a web browser is a giant and monolithic application that requires an enormous investment in time and money to execute well. Without it, FireFox will sputter off and die.

    The thing is, Google is now paying for two browsers. While right now, analysts might look at this and forgive them somewhat, i

    • Re:IBM FireFox? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Lemmy Caution (8378) on Thursday March 12, 2009 @01:31PM (#27169651) Homepage

      MS Firefox is more likely.

      MS has no inherent interest in propping up IE, which is a widely disliked, cruft-heavy bit of software that provides no revenue for them but batters their public image.

      I think it quite likely that the big check that was offered to Mozilla came from Microsoft - and that they're thinking of taking it. In some ways, Firefox is a better fit for Microsoft than for Google: Microsoft doesn't rely on ad revenues, so the fact that it is much easier to block ads on Firefox than on Chrome isn't an issue for them.

      If and when that happens, I look forward to watching a million heads explode.

    • Re:IBM FireFox? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Knight2K (102749) on Thursday March 12, 2009 @01:35PM (#27169717) Homepage

      The major Linux distributions, like Red Hat, would probably chip in. Part of the reason that Linux has any desktop market share at all is because Firefox runs on it, and many major sites support it. If people couldn't access their banking sites, YouTube, etc. with their Linux browser, they would replace their Linux desktop with Windows. Or, in the case of netbooks, buy the Windows version instead of the Linux one.

      • I see your point about the distributions needing to have the money to chip in, but do they really have it? FireFox is a tremendously expensive product, and even Novell is barely a billion dollar company. I would wonder if they could afford it.

        The notion that it doesn't really matter what operating system people run Google on is a two way street. If everyone ran Windows, versus Linux, Google would still get the same advertising. To some extent, Firefox doesn't accomplish anything.

    • Doesn't Google also pay for being the default search for Opera? Also it would seem 40 odd million a year would be enough for developing a web browser without needing a big blue to save them.
    • Why should a web browser be so monolithic / try to do everything?
      There's really no reason at all for the same application to handle, for example, interacting with a web page AND bookmarking that page

  • Google pays Mozilla because they want to increase competition against Microsoft. The more competition they can encourage, the more they can offer powerful services through the browser.

    They don't care whether it is their browser, Mozilla, or even IE - as long as it supports the standards that let them push MS out of the way.

    They built chrome to help that push, and to focus a bit more on javascript performance (again, so they can push against MS).

    They don't see Mozilla as competition against chrome - but as a

  • Just imagine-- using software whose developers don't feel they have to be constantly finding new features to add to it in order to keep their revenue stream going. Releases might just become stable enough that for a change, they aren't introducing new security flaws with every update. Sounds pretty sweet, actually.
    • by BZ (40346)

      I doubt feature additions to Firefox have much to do with revenue stream issues. Mostly they're added for one of two reasons:

      1) Implementation of additional core browser functionality (most common source of
      security bugs here). This arises from a need to compete for developer mindshare
      against other browsers, Silverlight, Flash, etc.
      2) Attempts to improve the user experience (this would be the new url bar in Firefox 3,
      f

      • ....maybe it's nice to actually improve the experience of your users.

        How about improving the experience by keeping the interface simple, the footprint of the program small, the performance high, and my #1 beef-- prohibiting popups from occuring while your typing?

  • Yahoo and MSN have search engines? No, seriously, I didn't even notice.
  • by Keyper7 (1160079) on Thursday March 12, 2009 @02:58PM (#27171069)

    I'll stick to my original theory: Google wants to support Chrome and Firefox. They want the market evenly shared between WebKit, Gecko and Trident (or whatever replaces Trident in the future) because that would make standards support more important (no more of the "if it works in IE, it works for 90% of the public" argument).

    Not for altruism, not to make the Internet a better place. Simply because a major part of their business is web applications, which are much easier to develop with standards.

  • for, microsoft could even pay you more for msn search.

    its not the money, its the ally that counts. google has been a prominent ally in the war for internet freedom in numerous occasions, especially in the network neutrality attack at&t et al made 1-2 years ago. since then they joined numerous alliances.

    we need cohesion more than we need money. for neither of the players we talk about here can defend the internet as we know it alone.

    and you are a damned foundation. your ideals should be put before your d

  • by qazwart (261667) on Thursday March 12, 2009 @04:40PM (#27172683) Homepage

    Chrome makes Google no money. The purpose of Chrome is to spur on the other browsers to do a little innovation. As far as Google is concerned, it's perfectly okay if Chrome gets left behind in the dust just as long as other browsers render Google's pages correctly.

    So far, Apple got the message. The JavaScript handling in the new beta version of Safari is much improved with the new Nitro engine (previously called SquirrelFish Extreme) replacing the older SquirrelFish engine. According to some benchmarks, the new engine is faster than Google's V8 engine.

    Nor, is Google even contemplating ending its relationship with Mozilla. Firefox makes Google money. Chrome doesn't make Google money. Google will make a deal with any half decent browser that uses Google as its default page. Google also has deals with Safari, Opera, and OmniWeb.

    What Mozilla is really pissed about was Chrome's use of WebKit instead of Gecko for its page rendering. This is really where the true browser battle is taking place. WebKit is the main browser engine in the mobile market and other browsers are feeling the pressure to adopt it.

    If that happens, web developers will start writing pages that work best on WebKit and not Gecko.

    • by hkmwbz (531650)

      Chrome makes Google no money.

      Not quite accurate. Chrome SAVES Google money. You see, with Firefox, Google has to share the search revenue with Mozilla. Chrome gets Google 100% of the search revenue.

      So far, Apple got the message. The JavaScript handling in the new beta version of Safari is much improved

      That's laughable. Did you really buy into the Google BS? Both Mozilla and Apple were optimizing their JS engines before Chrome arrived on the scene. Using the exact same methods as Chrome. Before Chrome.

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