Could Google cut off Mozilla’s revenue?

Mozilla, the developer of the popular Firefox browser, are about to announce an increase in revenue for 2010. Mozilla’s gross income grew 18%, from a recorded  $104 million in 2009 to an anticipated $123 million in 2010. A significantly large portion of that revenue being derived from search engines, with Google providing the lion’s share.

Apparently, Mozilla’s current contract with Google expires in November and suggestions have been made that, if Google were to refuse to renew their agreement, they could cut off a substantial source of Mozilla’s revenue and [consequently] seriously undermine Firefox’s further development – and potentially all but eliminate Firefox as a serious contender to Google’s own Chrome browser.

Is it likely to happen? I seriously doubt it. First and foremost: Mozilla could direct Firefox’s traffic to any alternative search engine of their choosing – not the sort of outcome I’d imagine Google would be delighted with. Secondly, I don’t believe Google’s main goal for Chrome is browser market dominance anyway – associated web apps and services are the main focus and that is where Google makes its real money. Last but not least; any move along those lines would certainly do Google’s reputation no good – it would be deemed a very hostile and mean spirited tactic among the web developer fraternity and general user population alike. Again, I cannot see this as the type of outcome Google would relish.

Of course, Mozilla do have other avenues for generating income; investments, business partnerships, donations and grants, etc. But there is no doubt any severance with Google’s search engine would put a rather large dent in resources. Mozilla does recognize the danger of ‘putting all its eggs in one basket’ though and are working on diversifying revenue sources:

“We currently have several key business partnerships and are actively exploring search partnership opportunities and other potential revenue opportunities.”

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