The browser wars continue to simmer, and Firefox, once the tech world’s champion against the insipid tyranny of Internet Explorer 6, has been losing ground to Chrome. In fact, just a few weeks ago, one report put Chrome in front of Firefox for the first time, with both taking up about 25% of the market but within a point of each other.
Mozilla said in October that they expected their agreement with Google, by which Google is the default search engine in Firefox, would be renewed — but the internet was all a-whisper with the idea that Google might take this tipping-point timing to alter the agreement. That’s still a possibility, but at any rate an agreement has been reached, for no less than three years of continuing partnership. Mozilla doesn’t provide many details on its blog, but their next financial statement will likely prove very informative on that front.
It makes sense, of course: Google isn’t one to antagonize an organization that has been in most respects a friendly one, and which of course commands quite a bit of an audience. Originally, the agreement was supposed to be renewed in November, which suggests (but in now way proves) that the last month has been full of negotiation. Obviously the balance of power has changed somewhat and Firefox is no longer the up-and-comer but the incumbent.
As for the merits of the browsers, that’s for another article, and the features and strengths of Firefox and Chrome (and more niche browsers like RockMelt) will continue to shift.
The next few years will be key for Mozilla, and the Google partnership (which makes up the vast majority of their income) will provide fuel for the fire while they attempt to diversify and innovate themselves out what amounts to serfdom. To speculate about what might occur after the threes years are up would be silly, but I would guess that Mozilla isn’t going to count on having Google’s help after that.