Mozilla's 10-year partnership with Google has run its course, and as part of its strategy to "create choice and put people in control of their lives online," Mozilla has chosen to partner with Yahoo! to provide the default search engine for Firefox in the United States.
The change is a major departure for millions of Firefox users, who have been using Google as the default search engine for 10 years. By December, Firefox will switch its default search engine to a Bing-powered "clean, modern and immersive search experience" provided by Yahoo!
The new search results, which look a lot like Google, will be applied to all Firefox users in the U.S. on desktop and mobile.
In a blog post, Mozilla CEO Chris Beard says the impending end of its contract with Google was an "opportunity to review our competitive strategy and explore our options."
Beyond providing new choices for users, Beard and Yahoo! CEO Marissa Meyer did not disclose the financial terms of their deal. Meyer, however, tells Reuters that the partnership is a revenue-sharing agreement that comes with "guarantees." Both Mozilla and Yahoo! will produce a "share gain" from the agreement.
"In the end, each of the partnership options available to us had strong, improved economic terms reflecting the significant value that Firefox brings to the ecosystem," Beard says. "But one strategy stood out from the rest."
Aside from its desire to change its revenue stream, Mozilla also likely had difficulty partnering with the competition. After all, Google has Chrome and the search company's web browser competes directly with Mozilla. In an interview with CNET, Mozilla chairwoman Mitchell Baker says it takes a considerable amount of caution to partner with Google.
"When you have a partnership that has competitive aspect to it, it does require a lot of time and attention and focus," Baker says. "We're utterly confident in our stability and viability going forward."
Yahoo! will also benefit from the partnership. As Meyer points out, search is a key growth area for the once eminent Internet company, with 11 consecutive quarters showing increasing revenue from search. Yahoo!, which owns 10 percent of the search market behind Google's 67 percent and Bing's 20 percent, should be able to expand to a larger market because Firefox owns some 10 percent of the U.S. browser market share, although that figure has been declining. Bing, of course, will also benefit indirectly from the partnership.
"This partnership helps to expand our reach in search and gives us an opportunity to work even more closely with Mozilla to find ways to innovate in search, communications and digital content," says Meyer.
Mozilla has also entered partnerships with other search engines in other regions. In Russia, Firefox will set Yandex the default search engine while users in China will be defaulting to Baidu. Firefox will also feature 61 other search engines that users can switch to by tweaking their browser settings. These include Google, Bing, DuckDuckGo, Amazon, Twitter and Wikipedia.
Yahoo! will also support Do Not Track in Firefox, which could provide a good incentive for users who do not wish for Firefox to track their browsing activities for advertising purposes. Google, on the other hand, relies on monitoring user activities on Chrome for its bread and butter, something that privacy advocates have long been protesting.