Firefox abandons Google for Yahoo (Bing) as default search engine
Thu 20 Nov 2014
After ten years of providing the default search engine to Mozilla’s open-source web browser – as well as 90% of the organisation’s $274mn (£175mn) annual royalty income – Google will no longer provide the default search engine for Firefox.
In a blog post on Wednesday Yahoo CEO Marissa Meyer announced the deal, the financial terms of which remain undisclosed. The new integration promises a “clean, modern, and immersive search experience” when Yahoo! takes over the reigns at the end of Google’s agreement in late November. Initially the transition will take place in America, with the rest of the world following suit in early 2015.
Since the Yahoo! search engine has been powered by Microsoft’s Bing engine since 2009, the shift from Google appears in an even more radical and commercial light, and one wonders what terms, if any, Google had offered in any negotiations to remain the default engine for Firefox.
Mozilla CEO Chris Beard announced in his own blog post that under the new agreement Yahoo! will cooperate with Firefox’s Do Not Track feature, allowing users to make web searches without sharing data with the search engine.
Beard said: “In evaluating our search partnerships, our primary consideration was to ensure our strategy aligned with our values of choice and independence, and positions us to innovate and advance our mission in ways that best serve our users and the Web,”
Underneath the generic explanation lies the tension of Firefox’s default search engine being provided by a company which has been taking Mozilla’s market-share for years – Google’s own browser Chrome has risen to absorb 60.4% of browser-share, rising from 3.6% at launch in 2008. In the same time-frame Firefox has declined from 44% to just 23% of share.
Users will still be able to select Google as a default search engine from preferences, but in a browser UX environment that has increasingly sought to ‘hide the controls’, the default preference is more valuable than it ever was.
In Russia the default Firefox engine will switch to Baidu and in China to Yandex.
Beard notes that Firefox users make over 100bn web searches a year, even at the reduced share of market. I note today that even though I am in the UK and not supposedly subject to the Yahoo!/Firefox experience until the new year, a search in my browser bar brought up Yahoo! search results instead of Google for the first time.