If you use Firefox as your main web browser, you might notice a change in your search bar this December. On Wednedsay, Mozilla announced a partnership with Yahoo: For the next five years, Yahoo will be the default search engine for Mozilla Firefox.
Other search engines, like [company]Google[/company], Bing, and DuckDuckGo will still be a menu click away, and users will still be able to switch their default.
[company]Mozilla[/company] is a nonprofit company, and for years its primary source of revenue (up to 90 percent) has been the contracts it has with search engines — especially Google, the previous default engine provided on Firefox’s new tab page as well as its search bar.
From Mozilla’s 2012 annual report:
Revenues from Google have increased significantly since 2011. What changed with that relationship?
Our search partnerships are designed as multi-year contracts. Near the end of each contract, Mozilla negotiates market-value rates from multiple search providers based on the present and future value our products provide. At the end of 2011, Mozilla negotiated a new agreement with Google based on growth and impact from our Firefox desktop browser.
Although Firefox has been losing browser market share to competitors like Google Chrome in recent years, it still has millions of users. If a large proportion of Firefox users decide to stick with Yahoo as the default search engine, this small switch could drive millions of searches.
Why did Mozilla decide to make this switch? There are several possibilities. Most likely is that the existing Google deal expired and Yahoo offered better terms. But there’s also the chance that this is a move partially based on principles.
Mozilla is one of the main backers of Do Not Track, a group that wants web companies to agree to a standard in which users can opt out of advertising tracking. Google does not recognize DNT signals, and is unlikely to ever agree to the standard. But [company]Yahoo[/company], as part of this deal, will support DNT in Firefox.