Monday, August 17, 2020

Mozilla Signs Fresh Google Search Deal

Katyanna Quach:

Within hours of the browser maker laying off a quarter of its staff this week, a well-placed source told The Register Moz had signed a three-year agreement with Google. […]

However, our source told us Moz will likely pocket $400m to $450m a year between now and 2023 from the arrangement, citing internal discussions held earlier this year.


The more skeptical among you may be thinking Mozilla used the pandemic as cover while it rejigs its workforce to reduce its reliance on Firefox – which is thoroughly dominated by Google Chrome on desktop and especially mobile – and tries to come up with new products so that it can stay afloat if or when Google turns off the money tap.

On the other hand, with other browsers adopting Chrome’s Chromium engine, Google may want to keep Firefox alive as a competitor to avoid yet more abuse-of-market-dominance complaints.

Frank Hecker (via Hacker News):

So, if you’re an avid user of the Firefox browser and want to chip in a few dollars to help support its development, there’s actually no way for you to do so, at least not at present. Your donations will go to the Mozilla Foundation, which will use them to help fund its outreach and advocacy initiatives, of which it has several.


Instead you can think of the Mozilla Corporation as being analogous to the Bell Labs or Xerox PARC of yore, R&D organizations funded by a seemingly-unending stream of profits earned by other businesses that enjoyed dominant positions in their respective markets. In this sense Google is to Mozilla as AT&T was to Bell Labs, or Xerox to Xerox PARC.


The basic situation is that Mozilla has tried to be at least three things simultaneously: an advocacy organization, a developer and distributor of mass market consumer software and related services, and (as noted above) a research lab.


In the end Mozilla Corporation senior management apparently decided to go for being a consumer software and services company, and to ditch any activities not related to that, including research projects. Having done so, the Mozilla Corporation faces a number of problems[…]

Alan Gibson:

Looking at Mozilla’s finances, it’s reasonable to conclude that Google is keeping them on life support to keep the anti-trust hounds at bay.


With the troubles at Mozilla, Google is one step closer to replicating the WeChat and Facebook walled-garden model on the Web. A quick survey a the field of play shows just how far Google has come in capturing the once open Web.


But Google doesn’t even need Chrome to dictate standards since it controls the Web’s front door. AMP, a technology no one asked for, is now on over 70% of all marketing websites for no other reason than Google said so.


Mozilla was, and is still for an indeterminate amount of time, the check and balance on Apple and on Google, the two remaining browser engine competitors. Both have perverse incentives to turn the web into their own platform, to make the web not compete with their own platform or make the web look like and behave like their own platform.


I have no interest in most of Mozilla’s offshoots like the Pocket app or iOS Firefox, but I will likely switch to Firefox and find a way to support them as a manner of principle. I should have done it much sooner.


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