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What does the future hold for Firefox?

20 April 2012, 15:46


Of all the internet browsers I think that Firefox is probably the best, well at least in my opinion. I find Firefox much more stable than Chrome which is also a great browser but just much more prone to crashing.  What I like about Firefox is that the browser is very easy to use, is regularly updated and is not tied to any commercial interests like Microsoft's Internet Explorer and Chrome. Thanks to browsers like Firefox and Google chrome, some people have for all intents and purposes stopped using Internet Explorer which at one stage had a virtual monopoly in the internet browser space. That said Microsoft is pushing hard to regain favour in the market with the latest version of Internet Explorer.


Firefox is driven by Mozilla, a non-profit making organization committed to making the internet a better place.  Mozilla and by default Firefox faces a very significant strategic risk in its business. Firefox is funded by Google, who provide a competing product, Chrome. Can you imagine running a business where you are funded by one of your  main competitors doesn’t sound right, does it? Since at least 2006 Mozilla has received as much as 85% of its funding from Google. There is a deal in place to make Google the default Engine for Firefox. 


Firefox came about following the demise of Netscape and its foundation was derived from Netscape. While Netscape collapsed while trying to topple Microsoft, it gave birth to a much more nimble browser which helped to open up the internet and bring innovation to a space whether there was very little choice. 


Initially when Chrome was still in its infancy the risk to Firefox was not so great but now we have reached a point where Google Chrome now has market share very close to that of Firefox, you have to ask yourself about the continued benefit for Google in funding a product that competes with its own. The Browser race at the moment is effectively a 3 horse race, Internet Explorer, Firefox and Chrome, which have market share of 54%, 21% and 19% respectively (According to Net Market Share). Mozilla gets most of its funding from Google, as much as 85% in the past year. Mozilla urgently needs to diversify its revenue streams. It currently has all its eggs in one basket with Google. Lately Google has been streamlining its projects as it seeks to be more focused and more competitive in the social networking space.


Goggle has confirmed that that it will continue funding Mozilla. The current contract is in place until 2014.  However, this simply isn't enough time to give peace of mind to the management and stakeholders at Mozilla who need to come up with alternative sources of revenue or funding before then. It would be difficult for Mozilla to get another company who can fund them to the same extent as Google because they are non-profit making and that company would need to have very deep pockets.

It would be very sad if Firefox was unable to secure enough funding to continue. We hope it will not come to this but at this point it remains a very real risk.

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