The open-source Mozilla Foundation raked in a whopping $53 million in revenues in 2005, the bulk of it coming from a landmark deal to deliver traffic to Google’s search engine.
Mozilla gets paid by search providers every time a Firefox user types a query into the one-inch search box embedded in its flagship browser and, according to Foundation chairwoman Mitchell Baker, it’s quite a lucrative arrangement.
“The bulk of this [$52.9 million] was related to our search engine relationships, with the remainder coming from a combination of contributions, sales from the Mozilla store, interest income, and other sources. These figures compare with 2003 and 2004 revenues of $2.4M and $5.8M respectively, and reflect the tremendous growth in the popularity of Firefox after its launch in November 2004,” Baker announced in a blog entry.
Officials at Mozilla and Google have declined to expand on the nitty-gritty of the partnership, which revolves around eyeballs for advertising on Google. By default, the home page on Firefox belongs to Google, featuring a co-branded search dialog box.
The built-in search box that sits on the top-right side of the browser also uses Google as the default search option, sending millions of queries to Google. At last count, Mozilla claims more than 279 million downloads of the browser.
A Mozilla source told ClickZ News that the Foundation collects money from Google for every search query. “It’s not dependent on whether the searcher clicks on ads,” the source said, describing the partnership as a “traffic-delivering arrangement.”
However, the source hinted that Mozilla earns a higher commission if a Firefox user clicks on advertising delivered alongside search results.
Mozilla’s partnership with Google extends beyond the search traffic pact. Google has hired several Firefox engineers, including lead developer Ben Goodger, and routinely provides resources to help with development issues.
Mozilla’s Firefox isn’t the only Web browser provider benefiting from the surge in search marketing dollars. In September 2005, Opera Software, the Norwegian company that markets the Opera browser, removed the advertising banner and $39 licensing fee after inking “compensation deals” with search providers, including Google, which occupies the default search slot on Opera.
Opera also has traffic referral deals with e-commerce giants Amazon.com and eBay.