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Mozilla will automatically switch Firefox search to Yahoo for most U.S. users

Gregg Keizer | Dec. 2, 2014
Mozilla will automatically change the default search engine in Firefox from Google to Yahoo for most U.S. users when it updates the browser this month.

Some analysts said the change to Yahoo was entirely driven by money — the bulk of Mozilla's revenue comes from the search deals it negotiates — while others said that ideology also played a part. Although Mozilla has taken hundreds of millions from Google in the last three years, $275 million in 2013 alone, it has roundly criticized both Google and Apple for controlling users' access to content and how they are allowed to manage their personal data. "This direction for the Internet sucks," said Mozilla Foundation chairwoman Mitchell Baker in a Nov. 10 blog.

Depending on how Mozilla handles the change from Google to Yahoo, it may face opposition: A relatively small number of very vocal users can easily drum up a loud campaign that damages a company's brand or customer relations. In March, for example, Mozilla was denounced for choosing Brendan Eich as its CEO after reports said he had donated to a California anti-gay marriage ballot proposition in 2008. Within days, Eich resigned.

Mozilla can ill afford to lose large numbers of Firefox users over the search changes, or any other issue for that matter: In the last 12 months, Firefox has lost 26% of its user share as tracked by Net Applications.

Although the beta of Firefox 34 included new search tools, among them on-the-fly search engine switching, the preview has not implemented the Yahoo default in the U.S. On Sunday, for instance, Computerworld installed the beta of Firefox 34 over an existing copy of Firefox 33, and Google remained as the default engine for the former.


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