Mozilla's search revenue jumps 31%, likely due to nearly $1B Google deal

Browser maker may be banking an extra $16.4M each month from 2011's three-year agreement

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If the agreement was dated retroactively to the November expiration of the previous contract -- Mozilla never dropped Google as Firefox's default during the interval between the end of the earlier contract and the announcement of the renewal -- the new deal could have accounted for the bulk of the royalty revenue increase.

In 2010, Google paid Mozilla an estimated $103 million, meaning that the new agreement would increase Mozilla's revenue by $197 million each year, or about $16.4 million per month. Revenue from Google in 2011 was up $34.1 million over 2010, or almost exactly two months worth of the search giant's larger payments.

But Mozilla faces tougher times ahead. Traditional desktop and notebook browsing has slackened as people reach the Internet from smartphones and tablets, devices where Firefox has a minor presence.

Mozilla has created an Android version of Firefox, but its share is so small it isn't even measurable by Net Applications. Nor has Mozilla crafted Firefox for iOS, which controls the bulk of smartphone and tablet browsing. The organization had declined to do so because of Apple's stringent rules that require other browsers to use iOS' built-in WebKit rendering engine.

Yet mobile's share of all browsing has been steadily growing, with mobile's portion setting a new record of 10% in October.

And Firefox OS has yet to bear fruit, although the organization has promised the browser-based mobile operating system will debut in early 2013 on inexpensive smartphones from a pair of Chinese manufacturers. Mozilla has also lined up several carriers, including Sprint in the U.S., Germany's Deutsche Telekom, Italy's Telecom Italia and Spain's Telefonica, to sell devices powered by Firefox OS.

Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at  @gkeizer, on Google+ or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed . His email address is gkeizer@computerworld.com.

See more by Gregg Keizer on Computerworld.com.

Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.

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