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Google Signs Mozilla Search Deal For Firefox

Google and Mozilla have reached agreement on a new three year search deal for the Firefox web browser

The Firefox web browser will continue to use Google search technology after Mozilla 21 December renewed its search deal with the search engine giant.

The deal is a crucial arrangement, as it accounted for roughly $100 million (£64m) of Mozilla’s $123 million (£78m) in revenues in 2010.

Ad Revenues

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, due to confidentiality agreements the companies inked. However, Mozilla will continue to drive searches to Google.com from the search box in Firefox. Google pays Mozilla a portion of ad revenues generated from those searches.

The new deal, which comes after the last three-year pact expired in November, is good for at least the next three years, Mozilla CEO Gary Kovacs said in a corporate blog post.

“We’re pleased to announce that we have negotiated a significant and mutually beneficial revenue agreement with Google,” wrote Kovacs. “Under this multi-year agreement, Google Search will continue to be the default search provider for hundreds of millions of Firefox users around the world.”

Google, too, praised the deal.

“Mozilla has been a valuable partner to Google over the years and we look forward to continuing this great partnership in the years to come,” said Alan Eustace, Google’s senior vice president of search, in a statement emailed to eWEEK.

Chrome Tension

The arrangement is certainly interesting because it’s not without some tension. Google launched its Chrome web browser in September 2008, when Firefox was on its way to garnering 25 percent share by nibbling away at Microsoft’s Internet Explorer share.

Chrome commands anywhere from 18 percent to 25 percent market share, depending on whether you believe the more conservative number from Net Applications, or the loftier number from StatCounter. Firefox has somewhere between 22 percent to 25 percent share but is not growing largely because of Chrome.

By renewing the deal, Google wins on three fronts.

One, it benefits from millions of searches driven by millions of Firefox users. Two, it appears to be a benevolent benefactor, providing the majority of funds for a leading, fellow open-source web browser with which it shares a lot of common interests.

Finally, Firefox and Chrome together account for anywhere from 40 to 50 percent market share, providing a nice pair of alternatives to market leader Internet Explorer, which has dominated the market for the last 15 years or so since squashing Netscape.

“Not only does Google not want to be seen as an assassin, but it stands to gain from putting its properties in front of the Firefox user base and it is certainly motivated not to lose this base to Microsoft,” IDC analyst Al Hilwa told eWEEK earlier this month.

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