The Not-So- Hidden Agenda
Published on February 1, 2005 By Larry Kuperman In Internet
This may be surprising, but did you know that Google has released a browser? They call it Mozilla.

The Mozilla Project states its purpose as follows:

The mission of the Mozilla project is to preserve choice and innovation on the Internet.
An open source community of developers and testers.
A partner for the technology industry.
An advocate for standards on the Net who provides tools for developing standard web content.
Educators, providing educational materials about Internet technologies and software development.

Check out the mission statement in its entirety at http://www.mozilla.org/about/. Sounds pretty open and aboveboard, wouldn't you say? Who could possibly disagree with that mission?

And Mozilla discloses on its Partner page that "We can't achieve these goals by ourselves, so we partner with for-profit and non-profit organizations that share our vision."

So, how does Google, one of the world's wealthiest corporations enter into this? Well, if you have downloaded Firefox, you know that it comes with the Google Searchbar included. It says so right on the Firefox home page, "Google Search is built right into the toolbar."

If you follow these things, you also know that Ben Goodger, lead developer, now works for Google. He tells the world so on his blog at http://weblogs.mozillazine.org/ben/archives/007366.html
"As of January 10, 2005, my source of income changed from The Mozilla Foundation to Google, Inc. of Mountain View, California. "

The end of Firefox development? Not at all. Ben goes on to say "My role with Firefox and the Mozilla project will remain largely unchanged, I will continue doing much the same work as I have described above." In other words, Google is paying Ben to continue developing the browser that includes built-in Google search.What a marketing coup! Google gets the equivalent of their own browser, Mozilla is above reproach because, after all , they are non-profit and open source and Ben gets what I can only presume to be a hefty raise.

It does strike me as slightly slimy that Google is funding Mozilla (paying the salary of the lead developer and others is funding) while not announcing any official relationship. Imagine if it was Microsoft doing it. There would be a hue and cry.

By the way, Google stock was at over $210 per share in after hours trading after beating market expectations for fourth quarter. Oh and Microsoft released the MSN Search engine today. Does anyone know if it works with Mozilla?


Comments
on Feb 01, 2005
Oh, after writing this I found some other discussion at Mozillanews:

http://mozillanews.org/?article_date=2004-10-19+01-52-31

Of course, Firefox is skinnable and could be easily branded for a contributing client...
on Feb 02, 2005
"Microsoft is funding Mozilla! *shock* *horror*"

Doubt there would be much fuzz over that, other than the usual conspiracy theories. Though I must say I'm getting slightly uneasy with Google's (as we call it) finger in the porridge everywhere. Reminds me of a certain other company that tries to be involved with everything.
on Feb 03, 2005
Firefox's (in)famous New York Times ad was sponsored by many corporations, including Sun Microsystems, whose Java technology is used in Firefox. Another, the ISP Speakeasy, has released a customized Firefox version (see it here: http://www.speakeasy.net/press/pr/pr012505.php ). Are they slimy too?

It makes sense for Firefox to advertise Google Search being integrated since it is by far the most popular browser. On a default install, search support for Yahoo is included, and at the bottom of the Firefox Central page http://www.mozilla.org/products/firefox/central.html A9, Altavista, and Ask Jeeves can all be added with a single click, with a link to another site where hundreds of other search services can be found.

I also might add that the addition of Ben Goodger to the Google payroll might be related to Google's fairly recent registration of gbrowser.com and gbrowser.net (neither of which currently hold any content). Google's Deskbar might as well be a browser already, so there's no real leap to imagine Google following Speakeasy's route.
on Feb 03, 2005
Is SpeakEasy nothing more than a skinned browser with a downloadable plug in? If that is the case Google could just make a theme and a plug in and be done.

I think Google is going to make a huge leap in the browser arena by making it a blogable, share links and rss feeds, images, post images, search desktop and internet, tabbed, gmail, sign in search monster!!!

Basically the browser will be the interface into Google and all apps Google from the IM software Hello, to the picture organizer Picaso to Keyhole Earth Viewer for location searches. You can sign in for specialized searches, shared links and rss feeds, and blog about it on your own blog or group blog, shop at Froogle and share what you like or reccommend on Froogle (like Yub.com or eBay)

Doesn't get better than that... well Blog Navigator gets better than that if Frogboy listens to me...
on Feb 03, 2005
The fact that a corporation supplies the programmers involved in the Mozilla development is nothing new. Actually, although I don't remember the numbers off hand, I read - probably one or two years ago or so - that most of the programmers involved in the Mozilla project were supplied by other companies. Most of these were from AOL (for Netscape) and some others were from Sun, a few more by other browser companies who wanted to eventually switch from using the IE engine to using Mozilla. Google is just another new player in the Mozilla arena.
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