Mozilla has once again partnered with Google to provide the tech giant’s search engine as the default option for the Firefox Internet browser in the United States, Canada, Taiwan, and Hong Kong. This recent move seems to have come as a surprise for Verizon Communication’s Yahoo, whose search engine has been the default option in Firefox since 2014 when Mozilla struck a five-year deal with the company. Evidently, the deal has now been cut short by Mozilla in an unexpected fashion, and Yahoo is now discussing the terms of its former agreement with Mozilla.
Although the Firefox Internet browser is already offering the Google search engine as default in some regions, this hasn’t been the case in the United States and a handful of other countries since 2014 when Yahoo entered the scene. In 2015, Yahoo paid Mozilla $375 million and claimed that it would pay the same amount on a yearly basis throughout 2019 for the privilege of being its default search engine in some key markets. Later in 2016, a clause was brought to light that could technically allow Mozilla to renege the deal in case someone acquires Yahoo, and still receive the rough $1 billion in annual payments from the company. Needless to say, Yahoo was acquired by Verizon earlier in 2017, and regardless of whether this has any relation to the acquisition, Mozilla has now switched gears and is taking a different route with Google’s search engine at the helm. As expected, Yahoo’s own search engine will remain one of the alternative options for Firefox users who may prefer it over Google’s own solution, but that default top spot seems to make all the difference for search engine providers as not many users go through the trouble of selecting alternatives. According to Mozilla’s chief business and legal officer Denelle Dixon, the recent decision was based on various factors but it all boils down to providing quality web searchers for users and doing “what’s best for our brand.” But regardless of this recent deal, Mozilla believes that there are still opportunities to work with Verizon and its Oath unit outside of the Internet search area.
The change comes in the wake of Mozilla’s brand new Firefox Quantum browser, which promises to be twice as fast as well as 30 percent lighter in terms of memory usage compared to Google’s own Chrome. According to Mozilla, the new release also takes advantage of a new responsive engine allowing for quick switching between tabs and integrates new features like built-in support for WebVR.