Firefox future shaky as Google deal ends

Things aren't looking good for Firefox: the Mozilla Foundation's flagship browser has recently seen its market share eroded by Google's brash young start-up Chrome, and the indications are that a deal between the two companies that equates to the overwhelming majority of the Foundation's income has come to an end.

It's no secret that the Mozilla Foundation - which counts among its projects the open-source Firefox browser, email client Thunderbird and recently-started smartphone platform Boot To Gecko - draws the vast majority of its income from a deal to make Google the default search engine in its products: in 2010, 84 per cent of the company's overall revenue came directly from the agreement to put the advertising giant's search engine into the Firefox search box.

That deal came to an end in November this year, and thus far neither Google nor Mozilla is saying whether it's been renewed. Given Google's new focus on its own browser, which recently surpassed Firefox in overall market share, it wouldn't be a surprise if the deal was off.

That's the theory of ZDNet's Ed Bott, who has been chasing the Foundation and Google for comment on the matter of the deal and who has so far received little in the way of confirmation. If the deal had been renewed, it is argued, the Mozilla Foundation would be shouting it from the rooftops - suggesting the company's future is far from certain.

With the Foundation facing a $100 million revenue drop if Google doesn't renew its search deal, times could be about to get hard for the company unless Google changes its mind or Microsoft, with its rival Bing search engine, agrees to match the company's previous funding terms.