The world has changed. The "strategic five year partnership" makes Yahoo the default search “experience” for Firefox in the US on mobile and desktop. The agreement also “provides a framework for exploring future product integrations and distribution opportunities to other markets.”
It is a major move for Mozilla. Firefox, once regarded as the browser of choice for people who wanted to escape from Microsoft’s Internet Explorer. It is, in a sense, sleeping with the enemy. Mozilla's deal is with Yahoo, rather than Microsoft, but Yahoo no longer does search techniology and has used Microsoft's Bing since 2009.
It may feel it has no choice. Firefox’s share of the browser market has declined significantly in recent years, largely because of the phenomenal growth of Google’s Chrome, which has supplanted Microsoft’s Internet Explorer as the world’s most popular browser (see chart).
CEO Marissa Mayer says the deal is Yahoo’s most significant partnership in recent years. “As part of this partnership, Yahoo will introduce an enhanced search experience for US Firefox users which is scheduled to launch in December 2014. It features a clean, modern and immersive design that reflects input from the Mozilla team,” she said
“We are so proud that Mozilla has chosen us as its long-term partner in search, and I can’t wait to see what innovations we build together. At Yahoo, we believe deeply in search – it is a major area of investment, opportunity and growth for us. This partnership helps to expand our reach in search and also gives us an opportunity to work closely with Mozilla to find ways to innovate more broadly in search, communications, and digital content.
Of course, Mozilla also says it’s a great deal. "Search is a core part of the online experience for everyone, with Firefox users alone searching the Web more than 100 billion times per year globally,” said CEO Chris Beard. “Our new search strategy doubles down on our commitment to make Firefox a browser for everyone, with more choice and opportunity for innovation."
Many will wonder about that. Bing's search capabilities still fall far short of Google's. And the sort of people who use Firefox tend not to be great fans of Microsoft - or Yahoo,