Is Google about to kill Firefox?


Online trading offerings, and single-dealer platforms in particular, rely heavily on modern browser functionality to enable them to deliver a great experience to users. Microsoft’s Internet Explorer browsers have long been a drag on progress in this area, since their functionality and performance have lagged far behind their competitors. So IE’s recent spectacular loss of market share is a crucial trend. It has two important competitors (on the desktop, at least): Firefox and, more recently, Google Chrome.

Chrome has achieved stunning success since it was launched just two years ago. It has rocketed from zero to nearly 24% of overall browser use, and is on the point of overtaking Firefox as the world’s second most widely-used browser (according to a recent ComputerWorld report).

Now an article in Business Insider provides an interesting piece of information: 84% the funding for the Mozilla organization, which produces Firefox, comes from Google.

It’s all about the Google search box at the top right of every Firefox browser window. You thought the Firefox guys just included it to make your life easier, right? Wrong. For years, Google has been paying them $1 per copy to put it there — which adds up to about $100m a year out of Mozilla’s $123m in revenue.

Or at least, it did. The Google-Mozilla deal expired last month, and both Google and Mozilla are “refusing to comment” on the prospect of it being renewed (although Google says it still has “some sort of deal” with Mozilla).

Just to be clear: Firefox depends for its funding on the largesse of its biggest competitor.

Oops.

So, what now for Firefox? Maybe Microsoft will buy it — possible, but unlikely. Otherwise, it’s off to join its grandfather Netscape Navigator as a footnote in browser history.

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