Word came from Mozilla of a new revenue agreement between Google and Mozilla, makers of the Firefox Search engine. The announcement on the official Mozilla Blog called the deal a "new agreement for default search in Firefox," extending the search relationship with Google for three more years.   

In early December, the web was abuzz with word that the long-standing deal between Google and Mozilla (Firefox) had not been renewed. While the companies were in negotiation throughout November, the hour passed, and the default search engine relationship that started in 2006, practically the Stone Age in web chronology, was dead.

Few Details of the Deal Announced

Not much is really known about the new deal, and what's on the table. In fact, the Mozilla blog stated the specific terms of this commercial agreement were "...subject to traditional confidentiality requirements, and we’re not at liberty to disclose them." 

Official word from senior management doesn't help either. Google's senior vice president of search Alan Eustance simply said, "Under this multi-year agreement, Google Search will continue to be the default search provider of hundreds of millions of Firefox users around the world." On the Mozilla side, CEO Gary Kovacs said, "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." 

Google Bail-Out?

The deal is being characterized by some analysts and outlets as a bail-out for Mozilla. The company received US$ 103 million from Google in 2010 for the right to be the default search engine, a whopping 84% of its total revenue.  Meanwhile, Comscore said about 75% of Firefox searches go to Google.

But the growth in Google's own search engine browser Chrome made a new Mozilla Firefox deal tenuous at best. Chrome market share has grown in 2011 from 10.7% in January to 16.90% by the end of November, making it the fastest growing browser in the space, and putting it at just 3.5% shy of parity with rival Firefox -- and more important, growing, primarily at the expense of Microsoft's Internet Explorer browser.  


Source: netmarketshare.com December-2011

As a pre-emptive move, Mozilla cut a deal with Bing in October, 2011. The new "enhanced version" was announced together with a new download site firefoxwithbing.com that includes default search settings for Bing. "Now Firefox users who are Bing enthusiasts can use Firefox with Bing to use the Web the way they want without having to take extra steps to navigate or customize their settings to Bing," the blog announcement states.  

So at the very least, the new deal with Google gives Mozilla some breathing room, in the form of a three-year window to renew its relevance in a world where its biggest customer, Google, is also becoming its biggest rival in the form of Chrome.