The Internet runs on advertisement. While there are some sites and services that do okay without it, and lets not forget the free sites out there that are run by users in their spare time, it is fair to say that ads keep a large part of the web rolling right now.
Mozilla, even though it is a non-profit, needs to earn money to pay its employees and maintain the company's infrastructure.
One could argue that the organization is spreading its wings out too far instead of concentrating on core products but fact is, Mozilla needs money to continue operations.
The majority of the money that Mozilla earns comes from Google. The partnership with Google ensures that Google is the default search engine of the browser and that is what Mozilla is getting paid for.
There is always a chance that Google won't renew the deal which would in turn mean that Mozilla would lose more than 90% of its revenue over night. While there is a chance that another company would step in, Microsoft and its Bing engine come to mind, it is likely that Mozilla would earn less as a result.
It is only in the best interest of the organization to look for new revenue streams to diversify where the money comes from.
One revenue stream that Mozilla launched just a few days ago monetizes the new tab page of the browser. Most sites on the web reported that "ads are coming to Firefox" and while that is technically true, most sites blew this way out of proportion.
Here are the facts:
With that said, it is hurting Mozilla's reputation plenty. If you read the comments on sites that report about ads in Firefox, take Cnet for example, you will notice that the majority are negative. This is not that uncommon on the Internet and it is likely that at least some of the users are venting their frustration but won't really do anything about it.
The problem is that Mozilla is playing with the organization's reputation because of this. While it may earn revenue from the new format it may damage its reputation because of it and that's why it may not be worth it in the long run.
So what could Mozilla do instead?
One of the things that Mozilla could do is the following:
Ask for donations by holding a yearly fundraiser. Sites like Wikipedia hold yearly fundraisers and Mozilla could do the same. While it is already possible to donate to Mozilla, placing information about the option prominently on the main site would increase donations a lot.
I'm almost certain that Mozilla would earn more doing so and without sacrificing its reputation doing so.
Now You: What's your take on all of this?
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Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.