Dec 30, 2011

Why does Google want to pay a competitor, Firefox, $300 million a year?

Until recently I didn't realize that the vast majority, apparently over 80% of Mozilla's income, came from Google paying them to make Google the default search engine for Firefox. It seems like funding them is an odd way to treat your competition. I don't have a strong like or dislike of either company or their products. I used to use Firefox, and still do occasionally, although 99% of the time I now use Chrome. Why does Google essentially spend a lot of money to keep Mozilla alive?


Basically, it is a way for Google to block Bing aka Microsoft, and Yahoo, it isn't love for Mozilla.  For that $300, Google gets to be the default search engine for Firefox.  Microsoft and Yahoo were also interested in paying lots of money for the privilege.  Think about how many people use Firefox, how many searches each of those uses make on an average day, and how much revenue is generated for the search engine as a result of being the one available by default.  Even with Chrome, IE and Safari, among others, Firefox is the browser of choice for about 25% of users.  Google didn't want that 25% going to other search engines, and I'm sure they wouldn't want people to get use to using Bing and thinking of it as what you do to look up something.  "Bing it" instead of "Google it" would be a Very Bad Thing as far as Google is concerned. 

Two reasons that I can think of:

1. They want to keep Microsoft and other competitors from becoming the default search engine in Firefox.

2. They want to protect themselves from anti-trust charges at some point by being able to point out that they are supporting a competitive browser financially.

Is it worth what they paid? Well, beauty is in the eye of the beholder as they say. So perhaps, in the end, it will be worth it to them.
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