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Google Will Pay Mozilla Almost $300M Per Year in Search Deal

Google will pay about three times as much as it once did to be the default search engine on Mozilla's Firefox browser. Although Google and Mozilla are keeping the word mum, news reports are leaking details of the deal.

"Under the multi-year agreement, Google Search will continue to be the default search provider for hundreds of millions of Firefox users around the world," said Gary Kovacs, CEO of Mozilla. What Kovacs did not say -- and AllThingsD blogger Kara Swizer is saying -- is this: The Google deal is valued at just shy of $1 billion.

AllThingsD reports that Google will pay just under $300 million a year for the strategic positioning on Firefox. Microsoft was vying for the placement for its Bing decision engine on Firefox. Microsoft also has a deal in place with Facebook.

What About Bing?
"Mozilla was able to involve Microsoft in the discussion and so created some competition for its Firefox 'default' search business. While Google's market share would probably not have been significantly affected by a switch to Bing, it was enough of a threat to generate this deal," said Greg Sterling, principal analyst at Sterling Market Intelligence.

Microsoft had been cozying up to Mozilla in recent months. In October, Mozilla and Bing rolled out Firefox for Bing, a customized version of Firefox that sets Bing as the default search engine in the search box and AwesomeBar and makes Bing.com the default home page. But Bing doesn't have a lock down on the custom Firefox experience. Mozilla is also working with United Internet, Twitter, Yahoo and Yandex on that front.

But Alan Eustace, Google's senior vice president of search, cemented the relationship between the browser rivals, at least in the media. "Mozilla has been a valuable partner to Google over the years and we look forward to continuing this great partnership in the years to come," he said. Google has the lockdown on the search engine for the next three years, at least.

Chrome vs. Firefox
Although Microsoft still has the market-leading browser with Internet Explorer, Firefox and the Google Chrome browser together are making strong gains against the incumbent. According to StatCounter, the combined versions of Internet Explorer hold about 50 percent of the global market share. Safari has gained about 5 percent on the desktop, and about 55 percent on mobile devices.

Chrome has usurped Firefox on the browser usage front. According to StatCounter, Chrome boasts 25.7 percent of the global browser market. That's nearly a 5 percent climb from two years ago. Firefox has 25.23 percent. Some industry watchers predict Chrome could draw a larger advantage against Firefox by the end of the first quarter of 2012.

"Google's own Chrome browser is increasingly a threat to Firefox, and Google's earlier, apparent abandonment of Firefox seemed to be a statement that it no longer needed the company," Sterling said. "However Mozilla seems to have played its hand well here and guaranteed its survival for the foreseeable future."

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