Free Ride? In Europe, Google Will Remain Firefox Search Default Despite No Deal
While Google lost the deal to be Firefox's worldwide search provider, it will continue as the default choice in many countries despite no formal deal.
How much does it cost to be Mozilla’s Firefox search provider in Europe? Perhaps nothing — because Google will continue to be the provider there despite not having any formal deal with Mozilla, come this December.
Yesterday, it was big news that Mozilla announced new deals making Yahoo the default search provider for Firefox in the US, Yandex for Russia and Baidu for China. Previously, Google had been the provider in all these countries.
While no terms were disclosed, the Google deal has earned hundreds of millions of dollars for Mozilla over the years. It’s expected that Yahoo will be paying the same.
But Mozilla’s blog post about the news made no mention of the situation in Europe, nor South America, Africa, much of Asia and the rest of the world.
In an interview with Search Engine Land, Mozilla CEO Chris Beard confirmed that Google would continue to be the search default in Europe. That made it seem likely that Mozilla had signed a new deal for Google in that area but just didn’t want to be public about it.
It turns out there’s no deal with Google at all. In an email today, a Mozilla spokesperson got in touch to clarify there is none. From the statement I was sent:
In most European countries, Firefox users will not see a change. In the US, Yahoo will become the default search, Baidu in China and Yandex in Russia. We’re proud to offer more choices than any other browser and as always, all Firefox users are free to change the search provider to fit their choice.
Our current financial relationship with Google around search will expire following the end of the current agreement (see December 2011 announcement here).
The first part of that says nothing that wasn’t in the blog post. It’s the second part that’s key, that Mozilla is stressing there is no deal that will happen with Google after the current one expires next month.
We know Google will continue to be the default in Europe. We also know now there is no deal making that happen. That suggests Google’s going to get a free ride in that area and any other country not covered by the announcements. Not bad for Google!
Then again, we also don’t know the share of searches that happen from Firefox in Europe (I asked Mozilla for this yesterday; I still haven’t gotten a response). It potentially is only a tiny amount.
But still — it’s odd that Mozilla wouldn’t have done a deal with Yahoo that covered Europe and other parts of the world. Not going with Bing makes sense — Microsoft makes a rival browser to Firefox.
It might be that Firefox is simply going to continue to use Google’s results but keep a much smaller slice of the search revenue, something similar to what happens in the AdSense For Search program. Still, this seems unlikely. That program is designed for small-scale sites. If Firefox wants to collect revenue from Google search, I’d expect it would need a formal deal in place.
The Guardian points out that the last time contract renewals happened, in Europe, Firefox shifted to Bing briefly. I didn’t recall this happening — I also see that it happened a few weeks before the contract expired. It sounds like it might have been an attempt to put pressure on Google for a better deal.
If that’s the plan this time, I’d say any negotiation tactic has gone out the window when Mozilla is saying that Google gets Europe and other places around the world without needed a deal at all.