Mozilla has plans to take its popular Firefox browser in a decidedly Google Chrome-like direction and some of its incoming features will only be available to paid subscribers, according to statements made by CEO Chris Beard in a recent interview. Speaking with German magazine t3n, the executive highlighted a couple of changes that will bring paid VPN services and cloud storage, among other unspecified features.
Deeper details about the latter of those features have not been divulged yet since the changes are not intended to be released until some time in October. Mr. Beard did indicate that the storage would be secured and that the company would offer new features and products a freemium model, with some levels of service being free while others are not.
That extends to the VPN services too, that would likely be free for a set amount of data and higher levels under a subscription service being offered once that limit has been met. For VPN services, the CEO provides a few extra details too, indicating that those could be intelligently offered based on what the user is doing online if the company follows through to include that in its freemium model.
In the example provided, the executive says that Mozilla knows when a user is on a public Wi-Fi network and when they are navigating to accomplish tasks associated with online banking. Those would serve as ideal circumstances to offer a VPN and, if more data is needed, to surface a premium version of the service.
What does this really have to do with Google Chrome?
Not only are the types of data Mozilla would use to offer a VPN very similar to those Google Chrome accesses about its users. That wouldn't necessarily change much in terms of what Mozilla sees when its VPN is being used either. That could raise some privacy concerns, similar to those Google is currently working to mitigate.
Mozilla would presumably have safeguards in place to prevent misuse or misappropriation of all of that data but the move to shift to a premium model can more directly be compared to Google's decision to alter how ad blocking can be incorporated for non-enterprise users.
The executive has said Mozilla doesn't have any plans to move any of Firefox's current features or offerings to the new premium model and that includes ad blocking. But the primary similarity here is in the overarching goal of protecting user data from external companies.
The same and different
Google's decision to alter its browser's ad-blocking centers around privacy and security, with the company's stated focus set on eliminating the current capabilities of ad blockers only insofar as that pertains to accessing end users' data — as opposed to just blocking out ad blockers.
A Mozilla VPN and secured storage would follow a similar vein but in a different direction.
Both companies will be charging for over-the-top services, with Google allowing more control where it makes sense — in enterprise level settings where limiting access limits a company's control. Mozilla, conversely, is presently looking to catch up to Google in terms of diversification and move some of its business away from search. Search currently makes up "roughly 90-percent" of its business, Mr. Beard says.
No details have been shared about how much the services might cost.