Mozilla: Google's not trying to kill us
Q & A: In an exclusive interview with PC Pro, Mozilla Europe's president expresses his shock at Google's new Chrome browser
Google has surprised the industry with the launch of its new Chrome browser, but perhaps none more so the search giant's close partner, Mozilla.
In an exclusive interview we ask Mozilla Europe president, Tristan Nitot, about the potential threat of Chrome, and whether the Firefox maker even knew it was coming...
What's your initial reaction to Chrome?
Google is a powerful company that really understands the web. It's a really serious competitor. I will note that it's an open-source product with bits and pieces coming from WebKit and Mozilla, so it will be using part of our technology.
Do you know which parts?
I don't know yet. Everybody can take pieces of our technology without asking our permission, so I don't know. It [Google] tends to be pretty secretive about everything. We won't know before the official announcement and before we can download the code.
Did you know Chrome was coming?
[Laughs] It's a question I would prefer not to answer.
Just last week you signed a new three-year search deal with Google. Where does this leave you financially? In 2006, 85% of your revenue came from Google. Does this effectively give you three years to find a new source of revenue?
Yes. In the past we had two-year contracts, twice, and now we have signed a three-year contract. So it's giving us more time to keep developing Firefox and it's a bit too early to speculate whether it will end or not after three years.
You must expect the search deal to be over once the three-year deal has expired?
Not necessarily. The fact Google has made this a three-year contract is actually a pretty positive sign that it wants us to be around for the long term.
I think Chrome is not aimed at competing with Firefox. Rather it's made for competing with Internet Explorer.
Why do you believe that?
Because from a competitive standpoint, Mozilla is neutral. We don't have a strategy which is competing with Google. We're not offering a search service, we're not selling advertising, while Microsoft has made a lot of noise that it wanted to go there.
Even if it [Microsoft] doesn't succeed right now, it has made very significant investments in this space to compete with Google.
But at the same time, probably around 70% of people who use Google do it through Microsoft Internet Explorer. So from a strategy standpoint, it's an awkward and unpleasant situation for Google to deliver its service through a product that is made by a competing company and a product that is, from a technical standpoint, probably a bit disappointing.
So I think Google wants to improve the browser market, bring innovation to the market, to be able to deliver better services. And right now it's not Firefox that's slowing down this, but Internet Explorer. If I was in Google's shoes, I would aim at Internet Explorer rather than Firefox.
You've often claimed that your close co-operation with Google has allowed you to improve the performance of the browser. Do you expect that co-operation to come to an end now?