Mozilla seeks new revenue streams as Firefox’s user numbers drop

Firefox is an amazing web browser. It is fast, efficient, privacy-focused and supports a large number of third-party and first-party plugins that can enhance various functions or add new ones. Yet as Google’s Chrome browser continues to dominate the browser world and eat into Firefox’s already limited market share, the Mozilla Foundation has found itself at a crossroads.

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According to a new report from Wired, the Firefox browser serves only 4 percent of Internet browser users, a far cry from the 20 percent market share it boasted a decade ago. While the Firefox browser is still fast and a great option for those concerned with minimizing their digital footprint, it’s clear that it simply can’t surpass Chrome in terms of user numbers.

As Firefox’s browser market share declined, so did its revenue and headcount. And the recovery looks increasingly unlikely: Former Mozilla employees interviewed by Wired believe the group has lost the browser wars and has little chance of regaining its former market share. It’s hard to say whether that’s actually the case.

In general, the Chrome browser is stable and frequently receives feature updates to improve the end-user experience. Imagine you’re a casual internet user: all you need is a user-friendly browser to access your favorite websites without bogging down your computer, and Chrome is such a valid option.

So how can Firefox overcome this dominance and word of mouth? It’s not impossible, but it’s clear that Mozilla hasn’t focused on trying to topple the Chrome empire lately. In fact, the harsh reality is forcing Mozilla to consider new revenue streams to stay afloat and continue to pursue its mission.

Currently, one of Mozilla’s main sources of revenue is its ongoing marketing deals with Google. Although the two companies are antagonistic in many ways, they have reached a compromise — making Google the default search engine in Firefox browsers and earning the former a hefty royalty. According to Wired, the deal is worth about $400 million a year and accounts for the vast majority of Mozilla’s total revenue.

Clearly, this is a precarious position for the foundation. Surviving on favor of competitors is not a sustainable business model, especially when its own user numbers continue to decline. Therefore, Mozilla has tried to create new paid products and services to reduce dependence on Google.

Mozilla VPN, the foundation’s first real revenue-generating service, costs $10 a month. Mozilla VPN offers device-level data encryption, a 30-day money-back guarantee, and a strict “no logs” policy, all in line with Mozilla’s mission. But is it enough for the Foundation to sever ties with Google?

Probably not yet, and not anytime soon, but it will definitely help. Wired noted that the new product could account for 14% of Mozilla’s 2021 revenue. Competition is critical to a healthy market, and if one of the biggest digital privacy advocates turns to dust, no one else will benefit — at least for consumers.

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