In an announcement today, Mozilla revealed that Yahoo has replaced Google as the default search engine for their browser Firefox.
The announcement took many of us in the search industry by surprise, especially as Google has been the default Firefox search engine since 2004.
The deal comes as part of a five year strategic partnership between Mozilla and Yahoo!, a clear tactical alliance given that Yahoo’s major competitors both own browsers that are stealing market share from Mozilla’s Firefox. Google’s Chrome has now ousted Firefox as the main competitor to Microsoft’s Internet Explorer, leaving Firefox with less than 20 percent of the desktop browser market. And don’t even mention mobile device browsing.
According to Mozilla, their agreement with Google came up for renewal this year. With Chrome biting at their heels, they naturally took the opportunity to explore new options.
The partnership is a huge tactical victory for Yahoo and has clearly been in the pipeline for some months, evidenced by the gushing blog post from Yahoo’s CEO, Marissa Mayer:
“This is the most significant partnership for Yahoo in five years and we’re so proud that Mozilla has chosen us as their long-term partner in search. This partnership helps to expand our reach in search and gives us an opportunity to work even more closely with Mozilla to find ways to innovate in search, communications, and digital content. I’m also excited about the long-term framework we developed with Mozilla for future product integrations and expansion into international markets…
Our teams worked closely with Mozilla to build a clean, modern, and immersive search experience that will launch first to Firefox’s U.S. users in December and then to all Yahoo users in early 2015.”
It’s important to note that Yahoo will not be the default search engine in all countries, just the United States at this stage. In fact, Mozilla made it clear in today’s announcement that Firefox will no longer be promoting a single global default search provider, but are adopting a more local and flexible approach, with new and expanded search partnerships by country.
Firefox will come with 61 search providers pre-installed across 88 different language versions. Google, Bing, DuckDuckGo, eBay, Amazon, Twitter and Wikipedia will continue to be built-in as alternate search options to Yahoo for US-based searchers.
The changes will roll out to US-based Firefox users in December and then to all Firefox users in early 2015.