Firefox Desktop Browser Boss Speaks Out

By Clint Boulton  |  Posted 2012-01-03 Print this article Print


He also acknowledged that Chrome can't be all things to all people and that Firefox is an important product because it can be a different product with different design decisions and serve different users well.

However, he also admitted that Google created Chrome because it believed it could accelerate Web development even faster than it could through funding Firefox.

The truth is, Google and Mozilla compete with each other, and with a combined 40-plus percent market share, they compete together against Microsoft and the rest of the proprietary browser makers.

Kasting's protest was joined by Aza Dotzler, product director for Mozilla's Firefox desktop browser, who disputed the widely held assumption that Google is merely donating money to Firefox out of charity.

On his personal blog Dec. 25, Dotzler offered up a tutorial on the economics of the Web in defense of the deal. That is, advertisers pay content providers to include ads with their content, while content providers make most of their money from advertisers. Users get a "free" service.

Dotzler put "free" in quotation marks to underscore that consumers generally give Web service providers access to their data as "payment" to use a service without forking over money. So how does Google come to pay Mozilla to be included in Firefox?

It's part of Google's traffic-acquisition costs, or TAC. Google pays 24 percent to 26 percent per quarter to companies that drive traffic to it and help it generate more ad sales. These companies include browser makers such as Mozilla, as well as PC partners, mobile OEMs and others with a presence on the Web.  

"For years, many in the tech press have presumed that Google is 'donating' money to Mozilla," Dotzler wrote. "They're not. They're no more donating to Mozilla than they are to Opera or Apple, both of which derive significant revenue by sending search traffic to Google. ... They're no more donating to Mozilla than they are to the handset makers and carriers they pay to distribute Android. It's a simple business deal. They sell ads and they do what they can to put eyes in front of those ads."

While any controversy around Mozilla and Google's deal may have fallen into the media abyss between Christmas and New Year's, the companies' increasing competition between Chrome and Firefox will surely continue in earnest in 2012. Chrome could pass Firefox in browser market share in the next few months.



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