A five-year alliance between Yahoo! and Mozilla Firefox was announced Wednesday and it marked the end of a decade-old partnership in the U.S. between Google Inc. and the Mozilla Foundation. Google has been the default global search engine in Firefox since the browser launched in 2004. The agreement was of enormous value to Mozilla, with more than 90% of the organisation’s revenue coming from that Google deal.
Google’s current contract with Mozilla expires at the end of this month. Mozilla claims the shift to Yahoo was a strategic decision.
“We are ending our practice of having a single global default search provider,”
said CEO Chris Beard in a Mozilla blog post.
“We are adopting a more local and flexible approach to increase choice and innovation on the web.”
Besides dropping Google in the U.S., Mozilla is also shifting Firefox to Baidu’s search engine in China and Yandex in Russia. Firefox users still have the option to pull down a tab to pick Google and other search engines as their preferred way for looking up information online. Yahoo Inc. CEO Marissa Mayer, a former Google executive, hailed the Firefox agreement as Yahoo’s most significant partnership since forging the Microsoft deal in 2009:
“We believe deeply in search it’s an area of investment and opportunity for us. It’s also a key growth area for us. “This partnership helps to expand our reach in search and gives us an opportunity to work even more closely with Mozilla to find ways to innovate in search, communications and digital content.”
Yahoo plans to unveil a “clean and modern” search engine on Firefox next month and then roll out the new model on its own website early next year, Mayer explained.
As far as the redesign is concerned, it will primarily affect how Yahoo’s search engine’s results are displayed, and not the way that requests are processed. The search technology will continue to be provided by Microsoft Corp. as part of a 10-year deal Yahoo signed in 2009, according to Mel Guymon, Yahoo’s vice president of search.
Terms of the deal haven’t been announced yet. But in the meantime Yahoo’s stock gained 52 cents to $51.10 in extended trading Wednesday. The shares have been hovering around their highest levels in more than 14 years, mostly because Yahoo owns a large stake in Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., a notorious e-commerce site in China.