Search deals generate 97% of Mozilla's income

Revenues for Firefox maker climbed 34% in 2009

Although Firefox's usage share has been stalled for the last year, Mozilla's revenues were up 34% in 2009, largely on the back of money paid the organization by Google and other search engines.

"Mozilla is the underdog," said Mitchell Baker, the chairman of the Mozilla Foundation, the non-profit group that controls the subsidiaries that crank out Firefox, the Thunderbird e-mail client and other software.

According to the audited financial statement (download PDF) Mozilla released today, the company's revenue for 2009 totaled $104.3 million, up 34% from 2008's $77.7 million, with the bulk of the year's income coming from Mozilla's deals with search providers.

Royalty payments, almost all of which come from search providers, accounted for $101.5 million, or 97%, of 2009's revenue, said Mozilla's financial statement. That percentage was about the same as the share of 2008's income attributed to search.

Unlike in years past, Mozilla did not disclose the amounts it received from the various search providers. In 2008, for example, about 88% of the search royalties came from Google, with the remainder from other agreements Mozilla has with Yahoo and Amazon.

"The majority of Mozilla revenue continues to be generated from the search functionality included in Mozilla's Firefox product from organizations such as Google, Yahoo, Yandex, Amazon, eBay and a handful of others," Baker said in another section of a post to the Mozilla Foundation site.

Mozilla did not respond to a request for a breakdown of its royalty revenue sources.

The agreement between Mozilla and Google sets the latter as Firefox's default search engine, and pays Mozilla for the click-throughs on ads placed on the ensuing search results pages.

Mozilla last renewed its search royalty contract with Google in August 2008. The three-year deal will expire in November 2011.

Two years ago, questions were raised about Mozilla's dependence on Google for most of its revenues, especially after Google launched its own Chrome browser just weeks after the pair announced they had signed another three-year contract. Previously, Baker had dismissed concerns, saying that Mozilla could do without Google's money if it had to.

Since then, however, Firefox's growth in usage share -- although not in absolute numbers of people running the browser -- has declined while Chrome's has climbed.

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