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Mozilla’s Renewed Deal with Google Puts Firefox on Steadier Ground

We were concerned when Mozilla, makers of the Firefox Web browser, announced that it was laying off 250 employees, a quarter of its workforce. In an internal memo, Mitchell Baker said that the company is reducing investment in “developer tools, internal tooling, and platform feature development.”

Mozilla's layoff announcement

The good news is that ZDNet reports that Mozilla has extended its deal with Google, worth about $400–$450 million per year, until 2023. That will keep Google as Firefox’s default search engine and should ensure that Firefox survives for at least a few more years. The Google relationship has long been Mozilla’s main source of income.

We hope Mozilla uses this lifeline as an opportunity to develop additional sources of revenue and better manage its finances. Firefox is one of the few cross-platform Web browsers still on the market that isn’t based on Chromium, and it’s best if the Web as a whole doesn’t end up relying on a browser monoculture.

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Comments About Mozilla’s Renewed Deal with Google Puts Firefox on Steadier Ground

Notable Replies

  1. Am I too cynic to think that the layoffs were a precondition of the deal signing? I’ve also seen a number of organisations starting to say that they will no longer support Firefox/Gecko because Firefox has been end-of-lined… really concerning for web engine diversity.

  2. Yes, you are.

    Can you give some examples? In what sense do you mean “support?” Do you mean they make websites and won’t check if they have problems working in the Firefox browser?

    Firefox has not been “end-of-lined,” renewal of the Google deal is another indication of that.

  3. Shades of Internet Explorer. Older Mac users remember the days when websites only worked with IE and Mac users were literally told to go away. What happens when websites use Chrome for the same purposes?

  4. I’m glad to be reading too much into this.

    However, just two days after the news a SCADA vendor said they were only supporting Blink-based browsers: Chrome, Chromium, Edge, and Vivaldi. They claimed that the news of the layoffs meant Firefox had been end-of-lined. To me, it looks like they want to go back to single-engine support.

    So I fully understand Firefox has not been end-of-lined, and even the bankruptcy of Mozilla would not mean that. But at least one organisation is writing a narrative that it has been, and I suspect some other verticals might go that route as well…

  5. Thanks. Sounds like that SCADA vendor also (or already) has written off Safari. It’s kind of scary that SCADA systems are already generally known for poor security, this one not being robust enough to handle more than one browser engine just adds to that.

  6. This is chump change compared to what Google is paying to be the default for Safari:

    Apple has over 50% of the world’s smartphone market share:

    58.48% of the tablet market share:

    And 13.44% for Macs:

  7. Is it just me or is it a bit hypocritical for Mozilla to champion privacy and then hand over default search engine to Google? I supppose DuckDuckGo’s pockets weren’t deep enough.

  8. IIRC, and I could be wrong, Firefox and Safari have tracking info automatically turned off, but they function differently. Safari goes a step further with a default tracking tool that prevents all cross site tracking. Firefox just blocks trackers from a blacklist, or something like a blacklist. Both browsers make it a lot easier to delete cookies than Chrome, and Safari goes an extra mile with a Block All Cookies checkbox, which I think is a default.

    No browser is perfect in blocking the multitude of trackers, but IMHO, among the top three, Safari goes the extra miles. BTW, Google has been furiously researching tracking alternatives to cookies:

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