Mozilla Says It Will Be Victimized by U.S. Action Against Google

Posted on October 21, 2020 by Paul Thurrott in Cloud, Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Web browsers, Google with 37 Comments

Mozilla relies on Google for most if not all of its revenues, so the firm is predictably worried about the search giant’s antitrust issues.

“Unintended harm to smaller innovators from enforcement actions will be detrimental to the system as a whole, without any meaningful benefit to consumers, and is not how anyone will fix Big Tech,” Mozilla’s Amy Keating explains. “Instead, remedies must look at the ecosystem in its entirety, and allow the flourishing of competition and choice to benefit consumers.”

Keating’s post—an official Mozilla “reaction” to this week’s dramatic antitrust accusation—notes that the U.S. Department of Justice’s lawsuit against Google references the firms’ financial relationship as an example of Google’s abuses.

“Small and independent companies such as Mozilla thrive by innovating, disrupting[,] and providing users with industry leading features and services in areas like search,” Keating says. “The ultimate outcomes of an antitrust lawsuit should not cause collateral damage to the very organizations—like Mozilla—best positioned to drive competition and protect the interests of consumers on the web.”

This case does put Mozilla in an awkward position. It competes against Google and its role as the gatekeeper to the Internet by providing its own web browser, Firefox. But it also relies on Google for virtually all of its income: Google pays Mozilla over $400 million each year to keep Google Search as the default search engine in Firefox, and the companies recently extended that deal for another five years.

It’s hard not to be reminded of a similar issue that Microsoft faced during its own antitrust case 20 years ago: Microsoft had invested $150 million in Apple in 1997, and that cash injection helped Apple avoid bankruptcy. But Microsoft was really just propping up an erstwhile competitor so that it could claim in court that Windows had competition. Today, Google is doing the same with Mozilla, and it’s just as likely that Mozilla would fail and disappear without these payments.

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Comments (37)

37 responses to “Mozilla Says It Will Be Victimized by U.S. Action Against Google”

  1. thejoefin

    Ironically this statement by Mozilla is more evidence against Google. Google's search monopoly disrupts adjacent industries like browsers, which should motivate regulators to act.

  2. mikegalos

    It's been more than just making it look like Chrome had a competitor. It was also about manipulating standards. If Google wanted to interpret a vague standard one way and Microsoft another way, Google would have Mozilla interpret the standard the same way and then say "Two of the three big browsers interpret it our way so that's the de facto standard and Microsoft is 'non-compliant' with the standard".

    That happened many times when I was at Microsoft and very often the interpretation went against the good of the user but in favor of how Google wanted it for their properties.

    • nbplopes

      In reply to MikeGalos:

      I’m no Google fan but this is hilarious.

      MS interpretation of standards lead to the IE tech “cancer”. If it was just the interpretation that was bad, the implementation itself was worst. They systematically tried to manipulate standards when they had over 80% market share, offering non standard and unique IE features. I know of big banks that are still stuck on IE tech and its lousy performance because LOB apps were built over time using ....

      You seam to be trying to rewrite history once again ... but it fails every time.

      I’m really happy that MS has come to its senses.

      PS: Recently it went on a open source buying spree ... I wonder to control what ... but people are too busy looking elsewhere. I wonder who will be happy to take on Mozilla on their shoulders in exchange for using Azure :)

  3. DavidBenMesecke

    Google needs to be dismantled, so does Twitter and Facebook. These companies are for all intends and purposes Trojan horses, pretending to be the voice of the people while they in fact use their monopolies to censor whatever voice that doesn't fit their globalist fascist agenda. Thus they are actually political weapons of mass destruction. Completely inappropriate in what is called a democracy.

    And what about congress, calling on them to curb hate speech, that's like putting the fox to guard the hen house.

    • longhorn

      In reply to DavidBenMesecke:

      Just yesterday I was shocked how many videos had been deleted off YouTube. If you post a video that is factual, but slightly controversial (by pointing at the wrong people for example) it will get deleted.

      Maybe not immediately, but eventually only "safe" content remains with an odd exception or two. In case someone wonders about censorship, then YouTube can point to one or two controversial videos that have remained.

      Information should be free. Make up your own mind. Do your own research. Even censorship with good intentions is bad, but of course these corporations are too scared to let some things be properly investigated.

    • crunchyfrog

      In reply to DavidBenMesecke: Be careful what you wish for...

  4. Daekar

    It is more important that the large tech companies be reigned in a bit than Firefox continues to exist. That's a crappy tradeoff to have to make, but there will always be painful change when an entrenched establishment gets upended.

  5. drprw

    I like and often use Firefox. But to say they "disrupt" is sort of funny. What have they disrupted? On the other hand, Microsoft should, in my opinion, create some sort of container extension like Firefox has. That's a great feature and the reason I use Firefox for my banking.

    • colmob

      In reply to DrPRW:

      Agreed, the container feature is the only thing keeping me using Firefox for some tasks. Don't like their recent UI direction, so otherwise I use Edge for everything, which is really good. I do like the existence of an alternative to the Chromium ecosystem, monocultures are bad, but apart from the Google subsidy, there doesn't seem to be a business model for it.

  6. crmguru

    I saw this interpretation of the the Microsoft investment in ? back in the 90's as a ploy to stave off the DOJ before. I did a study on this for a client back then and I came to the conclusion that given Microsoft Office, at like $400, was had about an attach rate of about 40% to new Macs back. it is arguable that MSFT made more profit ? on the sale of an Apple than Apple themselves. So propping up Apple was more to keep the cash cow pooping out dollars, than any measly DOJ threat.

  7. harrymyhre

    This is all about intellectual property. Right now all this talent is mainly situated in Silicon Valley and Seattle area. There’s no reason all that talent has to be jammed into those two areas. We have a lot of tech talent all over the United States. And with the new cooperative tools that we have now more than ever we don’t need to be all jammed together.

    the real estate agents aren’t going to like this one bit. They want everybody jammed into high priced crowded cities. There will be a massive shift.

  8. IanYates82

    Love the insertion of the Oxford comma into that quote ;)

  9. fromeurope

    After reading this I used Firefox to download the Brave browser. Then I uninstalled Firefox. Also I use the new Edge on a regular basis and I'm very happy with it.

  10. scovious

    This is so funny, so the companies that are subsidized by Google's monopolistic dominance are worried they can no longer be propped up by their literal competition's handouts? I bet they never considered the fact it might become illegal for Google to trick everyday people while visiting Google's homepage to switching over to chrome, or the fact that chrome on android is like Internet Explorer in 2003, and it's legally unsustainable.

  11. Greg Green

    So it’s kind of like the mob or cartels spreading their money around town ‘charitably’ to get support from the town folk, who then ignore the non charitable misdeeds of the same mobs and cartels. Nice work if you can get it. Not so nice of you’re a victim of the misdeeds.

  12. rsfarris

    I really like Firefox, but Mozilla needs to get its act together. If they're so good at innovation, which is part of the cornerstone of their argument, they ought to be just fine in figuring out a way to make money and stay afloat. At the same time, they need to stop mismanaging the funds they do receive. They just laid off 25% of their workers (something to that effect, trying to remember the exact numbers and details) while the CEO received $2.5m of that $400m for their salary this past year. I just went through and removed my passwords and deleted Firefox because of all this news combined. It's a sad day, but that kind of mismanagement is what's going to be their undoing--not holding Google accountable for its sins.

  13. stevek

    They can't fail fast enough in my opinion.

  14. madthinus

    Mozilla is also likely to be killed by the DOJ action. Without the Google money, there is no Mozilla.

  15. bkkcanuck

    The end result of this action as it stands now, is that Apple will get $12+billion less cash.... Their services profit margin will drop. Mozilla will fold up shop and fire everyone.... Rust will have to find another benefactor.... And Google will be $12.4 billion richer for it... and people will still use for searches. I don't see how if the DOJ wins this action (the major count) that things will be better.

    It is actually funny, is the default on my browser... but I rarely use it from the 'default page'... I just automatically type in in the search bar... probably 15 years ago it was yahoo that was automatic... but I actually forced myself to reprogram what comes automatic. Love it or hate them, is the best search engine (if you don't care about privacy on searches).

    The DOJ seems to be attacking the wrong problem to begin with... the bigger issue is how the algorithm works and how it favours other Google services over competitors in those other services. That of course is not a DOJ action but a congressional action that would need done.

    • nbplopes

      In reply to bkkcanuck:

      “The DOJ seems to be attacking the wrong problem to begin with... the bigger issue is how the algorithm works and how it favours other Google services over competitors in those other services. That of course is not a DOJ action but a congressional action that would need done.”

      So how can DOJ address the problem in the algorithm. Judges aren’t software programmers neither they own the software.

      Google search is really good.

      • bkkcanuck

        In reply to nbplopes:

        You require by law that the algorithm on how it ranks pages. You require that they not give their own sites any privilege with regards to ranking... the easiest way to do that is require a 'chinese wall' where the other parts of google know nothing more than any 3rd party with regards to ranking. Just like you have public audits for finances, you require a technical audit to ensure compliance.

  16. longhorn

    Mozilla is a 100 % controlled Google puppet so they will say whatever Google wants them to say. Google needs a second browser engine to pass Web standards at W3C (Blink and Gecko). Google can't rely on WebKit/Safari devs to please Google, but Mozilla is a reliable partner/puppet.

    This is about more than Chrome. It's about the future of the Web which is controlled by Google. The new "Google standard" WebBundles would destroy the Web as we know it. It would affect everybody, not just Brave.

    https: (double slash) (slash) webbundles-harmful-to-content-blocking-security-tools-and-the-open-web

  17. rm

    "Mozilla relies on Google for most if not all of its revenues, so the firm is predictably worried about the search giant’s antitrust issues." The Google puppet can find a better life with a new owner or it can starve to death. Google basically controls Mozilla by being able to cut off funding when ever it wants. For that reason, Firefox will never be a real threat to Chrome while owned by Google. Time to set it free.

    • zeratul456

      In reply to RM:

      I think it's absolutely hilarious that Mozilla is a crusader for justice and privacy on the internet in some cases, and then is upset when the immoral bribes from Google might stop.

      Seriously, just ask the user "Which search engine do you want to use?" on new installs. Have Google, Bing, DuckDuckGo and Yandex on there. 95% of users will choose Google anyway.

  18. red.radar

    I wonder if Mozilla would be better served as an open source product and run a foundation that receives diverse corporate support. However the engine is not cross platform to be attractive as a development target. Chromium would better served in that model and perhaps should be stripped from google.

  19. crunchyfrog

    $400 million a year? I want to start my own browser so I can collect 1/400 of that and retire.