Firefox: Mozilla is about to take a massive bet
Mozilla is conducting a study to assess whether users of its Firefox web browser are likely to tolerate a new default search engine.
Currently, search queries inserted in the Firefox address bar are sent to Google by default. However, Mozilla temporarily switched the default search engine to Microsoft Bing for a small group of users.
The company says this “experiment” affects 1% of desktop computer users and will continue for several months, likely ending in January.
Firefox search engine
The fact that Mozilla is considering switching to Microsoft Bing is somewhat surprising, given the lucrative deal the company has made with Google, which historically has accounted for more than three-quarters of its annual revenue.
Mozilla has previously said it intends to generate new revenue streams (eg from subscription products like Mozilla VPN), but dropping its relationship with Google would be a big step.
One might speculate that this move has something to do with Mozilla’s new focus on user privacy, an area in which Google is not seen to be good at. For example, the company has already moved to distance itself Google’s plans to reform the digital advertising industry, which it says are fundamentally flawed.
Mozilla has yet to respond to a request for clarification on the rationale. But whatever the strategy, a switch to Bing is likely to annoy a large part of Firefox users, who will have to tinker with the settings to restore Google to default.
According to the latest Statcounter data, Google is by far the most popular search engine, with 92.03% of the market share. Microsoft Bing, meanwhile, only handles 2.48% of search queries and has failed to improve its position significantly in recent years.
Certainly, the size of Google’s advantage has a lot to do with its financial deals with browser companies. However, many users simply prefer Google because of the quality of the search results and will want to continue using their favorite search product.
Of course, nothing is set in stone; Mozilla is still currently testing the impact of a switch. But if the company Is making the decision to make Microsoft Bing the default, surely a big backlash is inevitable.