There is a good reason why companies like Mozilla can give away their software for free. That’s because they get a lot from search engine providers to include their search engines inside the browser. So far Google has been the default search engine in Firefox and now they have signed another three-year contract with Mozilla to keep their position at the top of the search box.
This time however, they are paying a lot more to Mozilla than they did last time, almost three times as much. Google will be paying around $300 million per year for three years, which is close to a billion dollars. So how did Google suddenly become so generous? The reason is Microsoft.
Microsoft has been trying for some time to make Bing the default search engine in Firefox. It may be a rival browser but it still is very popular and becoming the default search engine in Firefox would instantly increase the popularity of Bing.
Actually, Microsoft wasn’t the only other participant in the race. Yahoo! too was after becoming the default search engine in Firefox. Of course Google could not just stand around and see their business being taken away from them like that. After all, Google earns their money through ads and most of the ads are delivered within search results. So even though Firefox is a rival to Google’s Chrome, they had to pony up the cash, and lots of it too, to keep their cash registers ringing.
However, with Firefox’s market share slowly dwindling thanks to Google’s own Chrome, this might not turn out to be a very good investment for Google, although I’m sure Mozilla would disagree with me, once they’re done counting all the money.