Mozilla renews Google cash cow deal

Agreement now runs to November 2011; accounts for 85 percent of income

Mozilla has renewed an agreement with Google that pays the browser maker for assigning Google's search engine as Firefox's default, Mozilla's former CEO said this week.

The three-year deal is good through November 2011, said Mitchell Baker, currently the chairwoman of Mozilla, in a post to her blog on Tuesday. "This agreement now ends in November of 2011 rather than November of 2008, so we have stability in income," she said.

Mozilla generates the bulk of its income from ties to Google, according to the company's latest financial figures. For the 2006 tax year -- the most recent numbers make public by Mozilla -- 85 percent, or about US$57 million of the company's US$67 million in annual revenues for the year, came from Google.

Firefox assigns the Google search site as the default for the browser's search bar; users can, however, change that to a rival search site if they wish. The browser also defaults to a Google URL for its home page.

Mozilla and Google last inked a two-year deal in 2006 that was to expire in November.

Last year, Baker said that she would not hesitate to walk away from the lucrative partnership if that was what was necessary to remain independent. "We've spent a lot of time and energy making sure that Google understands that it cannot turn us into an arm of Google," Baker said in an interview with Computerworld in October 2007. "If the protection of [our independence] would come into conflict with Google, or any of our search partners, we would opt for the community who built Firefox and love Firefox."

In the two years since Mozilla last signed with Google, the open-source developer's browser has increased its market share from 11.8 percent to 19.2 percent, according to Web metrics vendor Net Applications.

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