Mozilla Considering App Store For Add-Ons

Martin Brinkmann
Dec 12, 2009
Updated • Feb 24, 2017

Developers who develop add-ons for the Firefox web browser or other Mozilla software can ask for inclusion on the AMO website where anyone can download those add-ons free of charge.

The only option to actually earn money from add-ons at this point is a donations module that can be added to individual add-on pages. But that is not ideal when it comes to monetizing add-ons as donations depend largely on user numbers.

Mozilla users on the other hand can currently download and use all of the add-ons that are provided at the Add-ons website free of charge.

This situation may change slightly according to an article on The Register as Mozilla is currently considering launching an app store for add-ons in the next year which would allow developers to charge for add-ons that they have created.

The core reason given is to provide add-on developers with an incentive to develop and maintain add-ons for popular products such as Firefox or Thunderbird. It is something that at least some developers have asked for apparently.

The Mozilla executives are on the other hand not that sure about consumer opinion on the matter. It is one of the things that has not been analyzed in detail yet.

A Mozilla marketplace could turn some developers, who have developed add-ons in their pastime, into full time developers which could increase the response time and quality of specific add-ons.

But then again, it could alienate users from Mozilla and their products. It could also make the site more difficult to navigate, or cause multiple versions of add-ons to be released.

My personal opinion in the matter is that I would pay for a handful of add-ons provided that the money goes directly to the developer, that continued development is guaranteed, and that the Mozilla store provides filters to make everyone happy. What's your take on the development?

Update: Two years later and the situation has not changed.

Update 2: Mozilla launched an appstore recently for its Firefox OS which it calls the Firefox Marketplace. It supports paid apps at least in theory even though I have not spotted on yet there.

Mozilla Considering App Store For Add-Ons
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Mozilla Considering App Store For Add-Ons
Mozilla is considering adding an app store for Firefox to its site that would allow developers to charge for add-ons they create.
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  1. DanTe said on December 14, 2009 at 8:10 pm

    Hey “Laughing” and “Dresandreal Sprinklehorn”. I love your attitude. I would like to hire you two to work for me. Please let me know when you will be available to code for free. I LOVE your Can-Do work attitude. Who needs money. It’s such a filthy thing.

  2. Roman ShaRP said on December 14, 2009 at 1:34 am

    I said some time ago that I won’t be bound to any app store. I don’t want serials and IDs, I don’t want to look for ways to pay for something from my country, I don’t want to use something my friends can’t just because I have more money than they do.

    So – I won’t pay money in app store.

    I think it would be better if Mozilla establish some scheme of donations which can be shared between add-ons developers according to usage statistics, and makes this scheme work in most countries. I’d like to pay such donation – if there will be clear and easy way to do it.

  3. Dresandreal Sprinklehorn said on December 13, 2009 at 11:07 am

    I’ll uninstall Firefox if they do that.

  4. Laughing said on December 13, 2009 at 7:57 am

    This will never fly and if they do someone will develop a browser with free plugins become huge and Firefox will be no more. This is the philosophy that Craigslist understands and it’s why it’ll always be free.

  5. Anon said on December 13, 2009 at 1:48 am

    Not a wise move. It’s not only the price but how easy it is to pay.
    Not every country has it easy to do online purchases, and not everyone has a credit card. As well, banks aren’t open at convenient times in my country so putting that $1 available for purchase is something you must do at the time you are at work.
    I hate online distribution since they didn’t address such issues yet, and many countries are not supported right (like sites not supporting multiple surnames or replacing characters that invalidate the order at bank level, such as Steam) It is not as easy as just getting a coin out of your wallet, hence I will just purchase things that I can purchase without all the trouble.
    Also you know what will happen with paid addons…code stealing, useless addons for expensive prices, piracy (you KNOW it will be there), etc.
    Not a wise move at all.

  6. DanTe said on December 13, 2009 at 12:08 am

    Wow. Getting paid for work done. What a concept. A concept I see a lot of free-loaders are having a problem with.

    To continue to adult stuff: If Mozilla charges for add-ons, than I should be able to download the add-ons for offline install. (Say, using a serial # linked to my account/credit card.) I’m willing to pay for work done for me, but I would hate to keep paying everytime I reinstall Firefox. Since right now, add-ons can only be installed immediately online, and cannot be downloaded to be installed later.

    1. Martin said on December 13, 2009 at 1:23 am

      Dante you actually can download xpi files by right-clicking the add to Firefox link on the Mozilla website and selecting Save Link As.

      1. DanTe said on December 13, 2009 at 3:56 am

        Thanks. This is useful info.

  7. ginger said on December 12, 2009 at 11:35 pm

    I am in my late 60s and live on social security(a small amount). On occasion, when I can afford it, I will donate one dollar. I spend a lot of my time online and firefox is my fav browser although I also use wyzo,k-meleon,and ie8 when I have to. I am sure there are many other seniors like me living on very lean budgets and spending a lot of time on the net. These days, the fed,state,county,city, compel us citizens to pay all kinds of taxes and fees and now our reps in Washington are hell bent on forcing all of us whether we like it or not to have health insurance or be fined or go to jail!

    For firefox to now do the same thing is just one more nail in our coffins and if it should come to pass I will be forced to reevaluate my browser choice.

    Keep in mind that there are many alternative browsers to firefox and I don’t just mean opera,chrome,flock,etc,etc.

  8. Nope said on December 12, 2009 at 10:38 pm

    I would never pay for any browser-addon, and I think most Firefox users won`t either. If this app store would become reality, at first the most popular addons would become payware, e.g. noscript, adblock+, downthemall and so on. And new lame commercial addons would emerge, that have no real purpose but the name of a famous brand. Maybe some addons would be available in two versions, crippled free one that shows ads, and a paid one. And there`s also a security aspect: addons gone commercial will stop updates for former free versions, and after some time millions of firefox-users would have old plugins with unfixed security holes. Summing up, going commercial would be a very bad move and have many bad consequences for Firefox users. On the other hand there are many rich kids out there, that equate “free” with “worthless”, and are happy to pay for anything. Maybe thats the new target of Mozilla…

  9. Michael said on December 12, 2009 at 10:17 pm

    I won’t go quite so far as saying “never” but I will say “unlikely”. I have nothing against developers trying to earn a return on their time, that’s what our economy is built upon. However, I doubt I will see the sort of return on investment I will need to justify the cost, depending on said cost. An example would be, I love the add-on “Fast Dial”, and I could see myself paying a very small amount for it. Perhaps $1.00 USD. Another I could justify a buck for is “QuickDrag”. One buck would be my limit for an add-on for any browser, and it would have to be a really high quality and useful add-on.

  10. Nicolai S said on December 12, 2009 at 10:11 pm

    One one hand this is a good idea (faster/better/more secure addons) but on the other hand this is a bad idea (less people is going to use the addons).

    I don’t think Mozilla is going to do this because the only reasons why FF is the better than Chrome/Safari (WebKit) is because they have lot’s of addons (Chrome/Safari is faster than Firefox, but they still don’t have the same amount of addons), but if some of the “good” addons is going to cost money, then Mozilla lose lot’s users.

  11. nonentity said on December 12, 2009 at 9:47 pm

    I’ll put it plainly: I will never pay anything for any browser or any browser add-on.

  12. paul(us) said on December 12, 2009 at 9:25 pm

    I think if this really continues this is for Mozilla and me a particularly poor development. Because the developers could also benefit from other developers there program(‘s) (add-on(‘s)) And this would mean that they should have to pay for there fellow developers products what a powerful boost price spiral will give. I think this is cutting the developers in their own flesh. Next to that many current users will be hopping to a different (google or outhers) brouwser, and this again makes Mozilla Firefox weak(er). Which also will mean lower revenues for the developers. Really good developers are surely picked up by good to very good paying software companies. Therefore it is unwise for the developers to think they are practicing for the Premiership? I think not.

  13. Al said on December 12, 2009 at 7:58 pm

    I’m afraid if they do that, they’ll end up loosing Firefox users… I bet they won’t do it, specially now that Chrome has extensions, and they’re free.

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