Will Apple’s Push of Safari with iTunes Cut into Mozilla’s Google Money?

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When you update iTunes, Apple pushes their Safari browser to you.  It’s not all that surprising that they’d want to do this, considering they now have Safari for Windows, and pretty much told everyone that they’d be doing it.  But nevertheless, the move seems to have ruffled a few feathers, particularly those at Mozilla.  But why do they care, and how is it any different from what any other software company does?

What it all comes down to is money.  You know, the root of all evil and cause of countless fights.  In this case, Mozilla, who has captured a significant share of the browser world, gets a lot of money from Google, who pays to be the top search engine in their browser.  A little search box in the top right corner of the Mozilla Firefox browser features Google as its main search engine.  Mozilla didn’t just decide that Google was the coolest kid on the block, and made them number 1 out of the kindness of their hearts – Google pays for this privilege.  The more people who get Firefox, and the more people who conduct searches on Google through Firefox, the more kickbacks Mozilla receives.

If Apple jumps into the game, and starts pushing their browser to iTunes users, it is feasible that they too could capture a decent market share.  But their gain would be Mozilla’s loss. Any loss in users would mean a decreased payday for Mozilla, something that they really don’t want to happen, so of course they are going to balk at the move.  But in all reality, is it really unfair of Apple to do?  Of course not.  What’s wrong with promoting your own product?  If Mozilla is afraid people will jump ship for Safari, then they need to step up their game and make Mozilla worth having.  What’s that old saying – competition breeds excellence?  Maybe with three major players (sorry Opera) in the game soon, we’ll see more innovation.

Google accounted for 85% of Mozilla’s 2006 revenue of $66.8 million. They’re understandably worried.  But it may also be time for them to revisit another classic piece of wisdom: don’t put all your eggs in one basket.

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