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Summary:

In response to today’s news that Google is releasing its own browser, code-named Chrome, I decide to call John Lilly, CEO of Mozilla Corp., the folks behind the fast-growing Firefox browser. My intention was to find out what Lilly thought about this development, especially since Mozilla […]

In response to today’s news that Google is releasing its own browser, code-named Chrome, I decide to call John Lilly, CEO of Mozilla Corp., the folks behind the fast-growing Firefox browser. My intention was to find out what Lilly thought about this development, especially since Mozilla has been viewed as close personal partner of Google’s.

The open-source browser maker depends heavily on a lucrative financial deal it has signed with the search company. The pair recently renewed the deal to last through 2011. Was Lilly worried about yet another browser in the market?

After all, the emergence of Linux has had an equally deflationary impact on the UNIX market. Can a Google browser, promoted on Google homepage and pushed through Google’s mobile OS, become a sticky wicket for Mozilla Firefox?

“We collaborate with them on a bunch of things and we have a financial relationship,” Lilly says. “So there is another browser and that makes for a more competitive world. Of course we would have to compete.”

Given that Microsoft still controls about 72 percent of the browser market, Google can’t afford to leave that business to chance. Web is its business, and the browser is a necessary weapon for the company. “It is not surprising that they are doing a browser. Google does many things (servers, energy) that touch their business,” he said. “They feel that they can make a better browser by starting from scratch…advances in browsers are good.”

Lilly pointed out that most of the other browser vendors — Microsoft, Apple and now Google — have other businesses and thus another agenda. For Mozilla, Firefox was the only agenda. “Our only agenda is to make web better — it is our single mission,” Lilly says. With over 200 million users worldwide and a development team made up mostly of volunteers, Lilly says he isn’t worried about Chrome just yet. “I really don’t know how it will impact us,” he says.

He is right to take a wait-and-see attitude. For one, browser market share doesn’t change overnight. Google, despite its awesome reach, has a history of launching products that tend to lose steam. It has yet to hit home runs that rival its search and contextual advertising businesses.

Not having seen Chrome, I will withhold any final judgement myself, but I would look at the privacy implications of Chrome very, very carefully. I have long since stopped buying into the “do no evil” drivel the company keeps espousing.

This tussle between Mozilla and Google is going to get more gripping in coming years. Mozilla has a services strategy — Project Weave – that could eventually compete with Google’s suite of services. Whatever it is, it seems like Mozilla is ready for the challenge. And just when we thought the world of browsers was getting boring.

You can download Google Chrome from here when it becomes available.

Related Posts:

* GigaOM Interview with John Lilly, CEO, Mozilla Corp.
* Browser wars again.
* John Lilly on The GigaOM Show.

Photo of John Lilly by Joi via Flickr.

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  1. Scobleizer — Tech geek blogger » Blog Archive Google still has a sense of humor « Monday, September 1, 2008

    [...] Lilly, CEO of Mozilla, left a comment in this post saying that this won’t affect Mozilla. He also was interviewed by Om Malik where he said Mozilla isn’t worried. Possibly related posts: (automatically generated)Google [...]

  2. Om da man! FYI – I can barely hear John in the video – even with my speakers on the top volume.

  3. I assume that Firefox’s core constituency consists of tech geeks and early adopters. That said, Google’s browser should strike a chord with that very same demographic and will pose a serious issue to Mozilla. This is in slight contrast to IE which is still supported by mainstream, less technical web users. Maybe Mozilla isn’t scared, but they should be. Remember Netscape?….barely.

  4. Allen

    that was wrong video. older video that wasn’t supposed to be embedded in a live version. sorry about that.

  5. @ Chris,

    I second your sentiments, but I have to say that give Google’s history of mediocrity, I am not so sure. And John is right to not be worried just yet

  6. @Om,

    Agreed. However, I will say this. IMO, Google’s recent woes are results of their “brand betrayal”… ie. their entrance into questionable markets (Froogle, Lively, and possibly Knol), and not their failure to execute and develop quality software. This latest venture is in no way questionable as it’s an interface into core business. Your point is very well taken though. It’ll be interesting to watch it all unfold.

  7. not worried by should become a new meme. Seriously, what else would you expect them to say? We’re screwed?

  8. Oops I forgot tags are supported. That previous comment should read:
    “XYZ Company” not worried by “ABC Competitor” should become a new meme.

  9. Chrome: Do we need a Google browser? » mathewingram.com/work | Monday, September 1, 2008

    [...] has a post with a response from Mozilla CEO John Lilly to the potential competitive threat from Google, which has been working [...]

  10. Google Chrome Browser to be released Sept 2nd | The OSM Blog Monday, September 1, 2008

    [...] is not worried about this latest bit of news coming from Google. Furthermore, in an interview with Om Malik, he reiterates that [...]

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