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Soo!… Was Mozilla ever really in danger of losing the Google deal?

It seems to be a question which various blogs and article collation services were running on their front pages. But in reality it was a non-question. The question wasn’t about losing the deal, it was about whether Mozilla was able to convince Google of their importance in a post Internet Explorer 6 landscape.

Since the last deal was signed, Microsoft’s presence on the internet had majorly dwindled. They’re no longer the go-to company that they were, where a product by Microsoft meant seamless integration which it leveraged to give an impression of better build quality. The internet seemed to be word in the dictionary that no one at the corporation quite seemed to know what to do with. If remembered correctly they even dissolved the Internet Explorer team before attempting to finally bring it back and move people forward. All while doing this, they struggled to understand what was happening on the internet. Allowing the bad reputation of Hotmail’s spam and scam flaws to snowball. Now they are Bing, but they also appear to be forward thinking and that’s largely down to Windows Phone 7.

In the face of the decisions that Microsoft had been making, the Mozilla corporation got caught up in it’s celebrity and once that mirror finally cracked it found itself in a new world. No longer was it fighting against a company with a blatant disregard for the internet, it was fighting against while also fighting simultaneously alongside a company that made its bones off the internet.

Google and Mozilla have successfully come together to push forward and implement a lot of innovations that we today take for granted in our internet lives. That’s what good innovation is about, things that seemed like they should’ve always been like that and to be honest. The internet is a much better place for it.

But now Google is in a position where it’s dependency on Mozilla has been negated and it’s almost in a position of luxury with it’s support to Mozilla. If it’s a question of whether Google would like to have Bing as the default search engine on all of it’s browsers, then of course the answer is no. But does it need that answer to be no? Can it allow it? That’s the question that Mozilla have to ask. Of course given the structure of how things had broken down, Mozilla also had to worry about being low-balled by Miscrosoft should Google withdraw. Already being tight on resources, it really needs to grow it’s workforce rather than reduce it.

The ship that is Mozilla looks in terrible shape as things stand. While it was doing great things with it’s name alone, the overall management of the flagship product (Firefox) meant that bug-fixes were coming out and innovation in the browser was rather stagnant or long-winded. The place you can mostly see the demise of Mozilla is in the Evangelism Team and the presence it holds; once able to convince the mightiest of sites to standardise code, the team seems to now be MIA without even an intern checking the bug-tracker. So it’s no surprise that we’re seeing vast amounts of Web Apps pop up supporting only Chrome in the exact same manner the Web Applications once only supported Microsoft’s Internet Explorer 6.

And what of the resources that Mozilla does still retain? Well a lot of resources are entrenched in the various aspects of Mobile. While others appear to be bumbling around never quite achieving much in the open . Now that’s not to say that said developers aren’t achieving lots, but there’s less transparency in Mozilla of late and of course that’s down to where they presently find themselves in the grand scheme of things. Whether it’s another Mozilla move in homage of the way that Google handle things with Chrome or if it’s just regret and paranoia, it seems to be something that Mozilla are hoping no one seems to have noticed.

Time for Mozilla’s Firefox for Android is running out, the train is fast approaching beta and that’s where people put reviews in the Android market. As things currently stand, the present Nightlies aren’t even usable as a browser. Not that Mozilla acknowledges users would actually like to use it in that fashion. But it’s likely that, based on how the browser is working at present, they’re likely to get a real hammering from the average users who are expecting Firefox for Android to work. And of course there’s still the possible class action lawsuit for voluntarily handing over all their private data to Google without so much as a notification let alone a question of choice.

Mozilla should’ve spent it’s last eighteen months in talks with the likes of Samsung and Sony. The conversation should’ve been centred around providing the browser built in to televisions and Playstations. They should’ve also spent that time improving the clearly neglected and not-so-forward thinking platform so as that they could provide users with Thunderbird for Android. Those aren’t the greatest of feats on their own but they grow Mozilla’s usage and usage guarantees cheques. Another thing that seems to have fallen victim to Mozilla’s tunnel vision is Image Search, Google’s efforts in that area now have it as clear competitor to TinEye and it will come to the fore more and more; there was a separate cheque to be cut with that one.

Mozilla is apparently on a big recruitment drive at the moment, bringing back disgruntled ex-community members and contributors and saying “hey, you once cared, come back and make it better as a job”. Will it work? Who knows. But if it enables them to catch up to Google’s Chrome it could be a good thing for the internet as a whole and force Chrome not to follow the universally hated road that Microsoft done with Internet Explorer. Though of course the PR from Google would attempt to make them look innocent in that regard.

So this time round at least, it wasn’t about being in danger of losing the Google deal, it was just about making sure they had enough to move forward. But if they fail to use the money to drive the company forward, this will indeed be what marks the beginning of the end. Let’s hope that the personality of the user experience team comes to the fore also, because money being used correctly or not, if they can’t arrive at solutions other than what Google has arrived at, people will simply give up on Mozilla.


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