After a Decade, Firefox U.S.: Goodbye Google, Hello Yahoo!

Firefox - Yahoo!Mozilla, the nonprofit that owns the popular Firefox web browser, has announced its plan to switch its default search from Google to Yahoo!. By partnering with Firefox that is one of the web browser with most user, Yahoo! just scored a major victory over Google.

"I'm thrilled to announce that we've entered into a five-year partnership with Mozilla to make Yahoo! the default search experience on Firefox across mobile and desktop," said Yahoo!'s CEO Marissa Mayer in a blog post. "This is the most significant partnership for Yahoo in five years."

"At Yahoo, we believe deeply in search - it's an area of investment and opportunity for us," she added.

Although Firefox users have always been able to choose their own search provider, Google has been the global default since 2004, thanks to an arrangement that Google paid $300 million a year royalties to Mozilla to have that privilege. At that time, the payment made up to more than 80 percent of Mozilla's income. Added to Mozilla's income was from the percentage of the search dollars generated for Google by Firefox traffic.

It was a win-win solution. Google gets most of the search traffic from Firefox, and Mozilla gets the fund the keep the organization going.

This had people wondered why Mozilla chooses Yahoo! instead of continuing its decade-long partnership with Google. Google accounts for 90 percent of global searches and 67 percent of searches in the U.S.. All that for a cause. Mozilla should have a good reason.

The answer is yes it has. Mozilla dumped Google because of a crucial reason. First, the nonprofit organization was negotiating its multi-million-dollar finance deal with Google to keep operating. But the pair didn't agree on the browser's relation to privacy: Mozilla has been a lead advocate on privacy and has implemented Do Not Track in Firefox, allowing users to close themselves from trackers by websites and ads networks online.

This is what makes the two companies different. Mozilla and Google are moving in a totally different league: Mozilla is a nonprofit that is mission-driven, thinking "individual's security and privacy on the internet are fundamental and must not be treated as optional." Google on the other hand, is a business for profit. The company has taken its course by tracking users to deliver what the company thinks, is best for them.

This is somehow ironic. Google Chairman Eric Schmidt had said that the firm's biggest rival in online search was e-commerce giant Amazon and not competitors like Yahoo!.

With Google out of hand, Mozilla seeks for other source of funding. And the second that comes on the list at the small box on the top corner of Firefox's search box is Yahoo!.

Yahoo!, has ignored the Mozilla's Do Not Track signal on its own websites since May 2014. But to win the deal with Mozilla, however, it says it will now recognize Do Not Track again - only for Firefox users. This is something that Google Google can't do, marking a major win for Yahoo! in the eyes on Mozilla.

The Yahoo! deal also was motivated by Mozilla's desire to improve the search experience for Firefox users, said Mozilla Chairwoman Mitchell Baker. "They're open to innovations," she said.

"Marissa has a very strong product focus, which is wonderful," Baker said. "Really having an executive who understands the product experience, who's really engaged in it, has been a real high point. We've been happy that Yahoo! has gotten done the things that said they would get done with us."

Yahoo! that has not disclose the amount the company pays to get its search to be the Mozilla's default, gets most of Firefox search traffic in return. Beside an advantage for Yahoo!'s to dip into most of Mozilla's massive user base, Microsoft is also getting the joy since Yahoo!'s search is powered by Microsoft's Bing.

Yahoo! that is replacing Google as the default search engine on Firefox in the U.S., said that it would launch a "clean, modern and immersive design" search engine and a retooled UI for U.S. Firefox users. By partnering with Firefox, Yahoo! is expecting a major boost in its market share.

Google, being dumped by Firefox, isn't having a total loss. Google that accounts most of the global online search market, have many users opted to use its services. These people mostly have their default browser page set as Google's home page.

Furthermore, Google also has its own web browser, Chrome, a straight competitor to Firefox, that doesn't have to share search-ad revenue but to itself.

Chrome also has a larger market share in the U.S.. Mozilla's Firefox accounts for about 10 percent of browsers on desktop computers, mobiles and tablets compared to over 33 percent for Google Chrome in October 2014, according to tech data firm StatCounter.

Along with ending its partnership with Google in the U.S., Mozilla is also directing Firefox to Baidu's search engine in China and Yandex in Russia.

"Our new search strategy doubles down on our commitment to make Firefox a browser for everyone, with more choice and opportunity for innovation," said Mozilla's Chris Beard. Despite Mozilla no longer has a business relationship with Google, Chris Beard explained that Google Search will still ship as a pre-installed search option in Firefox, and it will still continue to power the FireFox's Safe Browsing and geolocation features.

Further reading: 10 Years of Firefox: Competing with Monopoly Suppliers and Applications