Tough times for Mozilla: Fewer and fewer people are using the Firefox browser to surf the World Wide Web. In 2023, a major contract with Google, which brings Mozilla the majority of its revenue, expires. Is the end of Firefox near? An analysis by Anna Schmid.
It’s been almost exactly 20 years since Mozilla launched its “Firefox” browser. 2008, six years after launch, according to a blog post by data analyst Ken Kovash about 20 percent of Internet users with the program via the World Wide Web.
Many things have changed since then. As data from the Statcounter platform shows, fewer and fewer people have been using Firefox as a browser for years. In February 2022, the proportion of Firefox users was only 4.21% – and that was spread across all end devices.
“The decline cannot be denied,” Selena Deckelmann, senior vice president of Firefox, said recently in an interview with technology portal “Wired.” “What we’ve seen over the past few years is substantial flattening.” Mozilla, you might say, is in trouble.
In 2023, things could get tough for the Firefox browser
It’s so big that some former employees no longer believe in the future of the Firefox browser. “Managers will have to accept that Firefox will not rise from the ashes,” Wired quoted one as saying. Another said, “Chrome has won the browser wars.“
In fact, the number of users of competing software has exploded over the years. According to Statcounter, Google Chrome’s February market share was 62.78% worldwide – numbers Mozilla can only dream of. And it’s probably not just the declining user count that’s giving the company a headache.
A major contract that gives Mozilla up to 90% of its sales expires in 2023. As various media unanimously report, the organization receives between 400 and 450 million US dollars per year for proposing Google as a search engine. default search for Firefox. Mozilla’s total revenue for 2020 was according to the 2020 annual report approximately 497 million US dollars.
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If the deal with the tech giant were to end, things could get tough for the company. After all, Mozilla’s dependence on Google is immense – despite many attempts to break free from it.
To cite a few examples, in late 2014 Mozilla started showing ads when opening new Firefox tabs. After user protests, the so-called “Tiles” disappeared from the scene for a short time, but were reactivated in 2021. Mozilla also wanted to make itself more independent from Google with premium features in the Firefox browser and a service vpn.
However, a look at the figures from the annual report shows that Google’s financial emancipation is still a long way off. The cooperation with the IT giant remains Mozilla’s most important source of income – and is therefore also essential for the future of Firefox.
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It’s also a shame because the Google agreement is a thorn in the side of many users. In their view, this contradicts the image of the browser as an alternative for users who value data protection and privacy. As a program that competes with Google and does not cooperate.
This makes Firefox all the more dangerous, as do many other browsers that have high data protection requirements – just think “Brave” or “Iridium”. Anyone who cares about their privacy while browsing the Internet no longer needs to use Firefox.
It’s also unclear if Mozilla’s contract with Google will be extended. Deckelmann declined to comment on Wired. But even if the agreement continues, one wonders how long. Because as Firefox’s market share drops, it may eventually become unattractive for Google to continue working with Mozilla.