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Mozilla: Chrome has "complicated" relations with Google

By Barry Collins

Posted on 22 Dec 2008 at 10:30

Mozilla CEO John Lilly has admitted the Firefox maker's relationship with Google has become "more complicated" since the company launched its own browser.

Mozilla is dependent on Google for the vast majority of its revenue and has previously worked closely with the search king's engineers on the development of Firefox.

But that relationship appears to have cooled since Google released Chrome in the summer. "We have a fine and reasonable relationship," John Lilly, Mozilla's CEO, said in an interview with Computerworld. "But I'd be lying if I said that things weren't more complicated than they used to be."

Last week Google announced it was replacing Firefox with Chrome as the default browser in its Google Pack software compendium. Lilly admits the company is in the strange position of having to co-operate and compete with its biggest financial backer. "We collaborate with Google, we talk to them and we have a fine and reasonable relationship," he said. "But we'll compete. This is, after all, user driven."

Despite Google's influence over Firefox, the Mozilla boss claims Google needed control of its own browser. "Google is in it to build the best business for Google that it can, and one way to take risk out of the situation is to own the software," he said.

"Companies cooperate in certain areas and compete in other areas all the time. We're cooperating with Google because we believe that search is a fundamental entry point to the web, and right now Google gives the best search experience."

And Lilly admits Mozilla will have to wean itself off its dependence on Google dollars. "Our goal is to be an advocate for the web for 50 or even 100 years, and you can't depend on any one organisation," he added.

"Our three-year agreement [which expires in 2011] is the longest we've ever had. This is a long-time horizon, so we don't have to do anything super soon, but in the next three years we can continue to build products and develop revenue streams."

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