On Tuesday, Firefox-maker Mozilla announced that it had renewed a “mutually beneficial revenue agreement” with Google for at least three more years.
The deal basically means that Google remains the default search engine built-in to the Firefox Web browser, a privilege for which Google pays Mozilla an unspecified fee.
Since Google signed the original deal in 2004, the search giant has introduced its own Web browser, dubbed Google Chrome. And with Chrome now used by one in four Web surfers, speculation had grown that Google might not renew the Firefox licensing deal, depriving the non-profit Mozilla of a vital revenue source (according to AllThingsD, which broke the news of Tuesday’s deal renewal, Google contributed 84 percent of Mozilla’s $123 million in 2010 revenue).
The value of the current Google deal with Mozilla is not being disclosed. Whatever the amount is though, it’s safe to say that it represents pocket change to Google, which has $43 billion in cash and short term securities on its balance sheet.
And with Google facing antitrust scrutiny for a variety of business practices, spending a little money to keep a rival browser alive has important PR value.