When Mozilla announced the native integration of the "read-it-later" service Pocket in Firefox, rumors that Mozilla must have received money by Pocket for the integration emerged almost immediately.
The integration did not make a whole lot of sense to part of Firefox's user base, and there were reasons for that.
First, Pocket was already available as an add-on for the web browser which meant that users of the service could install it to make use of it. Then there was the fact that Mozilla worked on its own reading service in Firefox, and that the move did not benefit all Firefox users but only a slim part of the user base.
Chad Weiner, Mozilla's director of project management told PC World in an email back then that "there [was] no monetary benefit to Mozilla from the integration" and that Pocket "didn't pay for placement in the browser".
Another high-ranking Mozillian, Mark Mayo, Mozilla's VP and GM of Firefox stated that the integration had "nothing to do with money".
A recent Wired article suggests that Mozilla does have a revenue agreement with Pocket after all.
Although the company emphasizes that Pocket and Telefonica didn’t pay for placement in the Firefox browser, Mozilla Corp. chief legal and business officer Denelle Dixon-Thayer told WIRED that Mozilla has revenue sharing arrangements with both companies.
No further information are provided in the article which means that the terms of the revenue agreement are unclear. Pocket may not have paid Mozilla directly for adding the service natively to the web browser, but it appears that Mozilla may have benefited from the placement after all.
One plausible explanation is that Mozilla gets affiliate payments if users who signed up for Pocket through Firefox upgrade their accounts to Premium. Other possible explanations are a pay per new user model, or an agreement paying Mozilla for traffic that comes from the browser.
Another thing that is unclear right now is whether that revenue share agreement was in place before or at the time Pocket was integrated into Firefox, or agreed upon after the integration.
If the first is the case, Mozilla should have disclosed that to its user base considering that trust plays a major part in the relationship between Mozilla and Firefox's user base. In fact, Mozilla's Manifesto declares "transparent community-based processes" as a cornerstone of the organization's mission.
The agreement between Mozilla and Pocket puts the integration in a new light, and the same can actually be said for the integration of Hello in the browser.
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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.