Mozilla might offer Freemium services in the future

Martin Brinkmann
Oct 11, 2017
Updated • Oct 11, 2017

Mozilla is best known for the Firefox web browser but also for its active stance on privacy, net neutrality and openness.

Mozilla products are available free of charge at the moment. Firefox is available for free for desktop and mobile systems, the email client Thunderbird, which was a Mozilla product until recently, is available for free, accounts are free on Mozilla sites, and there is no product to my best of knowledge that Mozilla offers that is not free.

Mozilla CEO Chris Beard revealed in an interview with Cnet that the organization might start offering Freemium services in the near future. He said when asked about Mozilla Membership, an idea to get users of Mozilla more involved with the organization:

There's another side as we start to look at products that we could potentially offer. Some of them start to look like services, exploring the freemium models. There'd be a free level always, but also some premium services offering.

The whole idea seems to be in an early stage and it is quite possible that it won't come to fruition after careful examination. When asked what kind of services Mozilla was considering, Beard answered that the organization was exploring that. This is all the information that is available at this point in time.

Here is a list of potential options that Mozilla has. Note that these are ideas that I came up with:

  1. Add optional services to the Firefox web browser. This could be a VPN to improve user privacy for instance.
  2. Add optional services to the Mozilla website. For instance, a web-based email service that is secure and without advertisement.
  3. Create new products and make them available in a basic free version, and an extended paid version. This could be new applications for Android or iOS, maybe a standalone VPN client.
  4. Add a paid component to existing products. For instance, extra storage space or other benefits to Firefox Screenshots users.
  5. It could be something totally unrelated to core products such as Firefox.

Now You: What freemium services do you think could Mozilla offer in the future?

Mozilla might offer Freemium services in the future
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Mozilla might offer Freemium services in the future
Mozilla CEO Chris Beard revealed in an interview with Cnet that the organization might start offering Freemium services in the near future.
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  1. anotherone said on October 16, 2017 at 5:31 am

    On the second idea it should be advertisements if I am not mistaken. Even as a category they aren’t uncountable.

  2. coakl said on October 14, 2017 at 12:02 am

    Here’s a free-mium business model:

    Free Firefox, will *not* work with legacy extensions.
    Premium Firefox, with $40 ‘donation’, will work with legacy extensions.

    1. strel said on October 19, 2017 at 8:01 pm

      Ferpect !

  3. Frederik said on October 12, 2017 at 5:23 pm

    So, with their market share dropping because of their own doing, their corporation becomes endangered, and they want to make sure they can afford their next premium Mac and big car by offering Freemium services? I thought the whole point of being a non-profit was to balance revenue and expense, not starting to charge for already-existing infrastructure when the number of users declines. Search- and all the other partnerships Mozilla has should more than pay for what services Mozilla offers or plans to offer, with plenty left over for development. Unless of course Mozilla has become so top-heavy that the shrinking user base is there just to sustain the 2%-ers with direct payment on top of adveritsing.

    Mozilla: do a reality check. Close some of your offices and downsize your management. Unless of course you’re intent on chasing what little market share you have left out the door as fast as possible.

  4. Mikhoul said on October 12, 2017 at 1:59 am

    🔥Will NEVER give a penny to Mozilla until all executive/permanent employees win less than $75K US in annual salary🔥

    NOBODY on the earth deserve to have more than $75K/Yearly in Salary ESPECIALLY for a “🔥🔥🔥NON-PROFIT Organization”🔥🔥🔥 like Mozilla.

    “Mozilla’s highest-paid official, chairperson Mitchell Baker, now enjoys a pay package that tops $1 million. In 2014, she got a $400,000 base salary, a $594,000 bonus and some other benefits that pushed total compensation to $1,035,114. That hardly rivals, say, the $102 million that Apple CEO Tim Cook booked last year, mostly because of stock vesting. Still, it means Baker isn’t trapped in abject poverty.” SOURCE:

      1. Frederik said on October 12, 2017 at 5:25 pm
  5. Nuff Said said on October 12, 2017 at 12:35 am

    Firefox has long since given up their quest to be the best browser.
    They seem to currently aspire to become the browser that Sucks-The-Least!
    They are also now so squirrely, manic and double minded in their every endeavor, that I certainly would not want to trust them with anything important or expect anything to last long.

    I opened an Amazon Smile account for Mozilla years ago now, but have yet to ever use it because they vex me so much regularly. That’s about $100.00 worth from just me in the last year.
    (Amazon Smile sends 1% of all your purchases to the non profit/.org of your choice.)
    Don’t know if Waterfox could qualify but that might be basic funding base for these alternative browsers.

  6. iponymous said on October 12, 2017 at 12:02 am

    As Martin said “Mozilla is best known for . . . its active stance on privacy, net neutrality and openness.

    Every Human-being is entitled to freedom, anonymity, privacy and security especially online where that is more and more taken for granted.

    Selling products that capitalize on that principle is a great way to go in a time where everyone is concerned about privacy and looking for dependable ways to ensure it!

    How about with free Owncloud or Nextcloud experience with free minimal storage like the 2GB that Dropbox offers) and PAID EXTENDED STORAGE? people want a CENTRALIZED experience from a trustworthy company where they can house their files online in confidence with respect to privacy… Microsoft Google and Yahoo, have certainly let us down in this respect.

    As a segway to a PAID VPN perhaps a free anonymous, no-log privacy respecting DNS service that blocks all tracking as a display of mozilla’s morals and integrity. This could be a gateway to a paid VPN(maybe one that has optional ad blocking) which shares that integrity.

    Its just a matter of time before someone takes the reins, fathers a whole new industry, and gains ‘the peoples’ respect and adoration.

  7. Rush said on October 11, 2017 at 7:35 pm

    Alex Kontos Director, Project Lead at Waterfox, Wonderkid; MrAlex94 has indicated that Waterfox most recent updates will block Mozilla from installing unsolicited add-on’s, and will remove any that are already installed.

    Speaking of blocking, Mr. Brinkmann, the recent updates from Waterfox blocks access to your site, claiming GHacks security certificate is expired and invalid. The newest updated Waterfox will NOT allow access. I have an older version on my other machine.

    IMO an invalid certificate is serious.

    Just thought you should know, if you didn’t already.

    1. Tom Hawack said on October 12, 2017 at 10:41 am

      No certificate problem either here with Waterfox 55.2.2
      SSleuth add-on reports :

      Cipher suite
      Key exchange: Unknown.
      Authentication: Unknown.
      Bulk cipher: AES GCM 128 bits.
      HMAC: SHA-256.
      Perfect Forward Secrecy: Yes
      SSL/TLS Version: TLSv1.3
      Connection status: Secure
      Extended validation: No
      Signature: SHA-256/ECDSA
      Key: bits
      Common name:
      Issued to: CloudFlare, Inc.
      Issued by: CloudFlare, Inc.
      Validity: 4/1/2017 — 4/1/2018
      Fingerprint: E4:44:C0:C6:52:DE:00:DE:1B:3D:F7:3D:33:9A:6A:31:CB:64:3A:1D:9F:9C:08:15:A0:30:C7:6F:69:D4:F8:86

      Scored 10/10 : very good, Martin. Keep up the good work :)

    2. Martin Brinkmann said on October 11, 2017 at 8:41 pm

      The certificate is not invalid on my end. I tested in Firefox, Chrome and Waterfox, and it shows up as fine. Anyone else having this issue?

      1. SimonAlberta said on October 12, 2017 at 3:29 am

        No problem for me in Waterfox.

        Something I have been noticing in Firefox and its’ kin is that often if I type a website address into the browser directly it will spit up the Invalid Certificate warning and yet if I click on a link (via a search) to the EXACT SAME URL Firefox connects with no issue.

        Maybe that is linked with this problem?

        FYI, I just tested your homepage by typing it in direct and still no certificate problem for me.

      2. Martin Brinkmann said on October 12, 2017 at 5:51 am

        Thanks for the verification!

      3. John said on October 12, 2017 at 1:22 am

        Tests okay with Vivaldi for Windows, Pale Moon for Windows, and Firefox for Android. All are set to automatic updates, so should all be the latest version or one version behind, and all have the “https everywhere” add-on, so are checking the SSL certificates automatically.

        That’s just my experience. That it works okay for me doesn’t mean that others aren’t having legitimate issues, they may well be (I don’t even have Waterfox, the browser that the user is saying has an issue with the certificate). I just find that telling people what works helps them narrow down what the problem some users may be experiencing is, and sometimes gets to a solution for them faster.

      4. Rush said on October 12, 2017 at 12:24 am

        You and Appsters reply helped a lot. I began to delve into the issue, noting my problem with HTTPS: sites was consistent with another browser on the same machine.

        Flushed my DNS and changed the domain server address…………..solved.

        Sorry for the false alarm.

      5. Anonymous said on October 11, 2017 at 10:08 pm

        With Firefox esr 52.4 and Pale Moon 27.5.1 no issue

    3. Appster said on October 11, 2017 at 7:37 pm

      Odd, works fine here with Waterfox 55.2.2…

  8. John said on October 11, 2017 at 6:44 pm

    Looks like Mozilla is trying to get as much cash as possible from the few loyal users it has left before the end. It’s classic behavior from a sinking company to raise prices and devise schemes to separate the few diehards left from their cash before they go under. Going freemium on a webbrowser and reated services isn’t a play for more market-share, it’s saying “We can’t get more marketshare, so let’s soak the people we have left while we still can”.

    The biggest hole Mozilla is going to leave if they crater is that they are the only well-known Android browser with an add-on ecosystem including an ad-blocker. I hope some other browsers start competing in that arena so we have stuff to fall back on. I’m long over Firefox on PC- too many better alternatives.

  9. Anonymous said on October 11, 2017 at 6:41 pm

    “Freemium”, I had to go to Wikipedia to know what it was > “A freemium model is sometimes used to build a consumer base when the marginal cost of producing extra units is low”. “To build a consumer base”?? “Consumer”: I had to go to Wikipedia to know what it was. Why “Quantum”, why not “Firemium” or FoxPro? Beurk.

  10. SocialMediaGrandpa said on October 11, 2017 at 3:46 pm

    Thank you, I already use Pale Moon as my primary browser. And I love it. I do worry about the future, though. But for now PM is perfect for me.

  11. firefox man said on October 11, 2017 at 3:36 pm

    to back safari

  12. SocialMediaGrandpa said on October 11, 2017 at 1:39 pm

    I’d pay good, regular, money for a pre-Australis version of Firefox that would just receive security updates and nothing else.
    I won’t be holding my breath, though.

    1. Tom Hawack said on October 11, 2017 at 8:46 pm

      Appster mentioned above that Waterfox was an answer to the quest of a 100% telemetry-free browser Waterfox is also an answer to the wish of keeping on with legacy add-ons such as ‘Classic Theme Restorer’ (besides so many others which will never be translated to their Webextension counterpart). I use Waterfox, am confident in its management of the post-Fiefox 56 era, and excesively curious to observe how a browser will stay tuned with Firefox 57+ and simultaneously keep on maintaining legacy add-ons. Right now Waterfox (55.2.2) is brilliant and avoids pre-FF57 anxieties :)

      About Mozilla’s Freemium dreams : why not. Paying for code doesn’t mean the application/service is vicious unless one’s considerations led my demagogy. We all pay and get paid one way or another, it is the breath of social life (life itself is on another level). Martin’s suggestions in the article could meet mine.

      1. Tom Hawack said on October 12, 2017 at 11:57 pm

        ERRATUM (getting lost with version numbers) : of course, all mentions of 52.2.2 were meant to stipulate 55.2.2
        I had been using Firefox ESR 52 (that’s the right “52”!) that it sort of got fixed somewhere in my brains :)

      2. Tom Hawack said on October 12, 2017 at 10:21 am

        @Anonymous, indeed. I do spoof Waterfox’s user agent, not only because of fingerprinting but because IMO it includes an inconsistency (at this time anyway) :

        On my computer, Waterfox 52.2.2 on Windows 7 x64 :

        Default user agent :
        Mozilla/5.0 (Windows NT 6.1; Win64; x64; rv:55.0) Gecko/20100101 Firefox/55.2.2 Waterfox/55.2.2
        -> There is no such thing as Firefox 52.2.2 and adding Waterfox 52.2.2 is meaningless technically and “fingerprintable” in terms of privacy.

        User agent I’ve spoofed to :
        Mozilla/5.0 (Windows NT 6.1; Win64; x64; rv=55.0) Gecko/20100101 Firefox/55.0.3
        -> Because Waterfox since 55.1.0 is built on Firefox 55.0.3 and that later versions have integrated latest Firefox 56 security patches only.

        I’m not fond of spoofing my User Agent but I do it in this case because I believe the spoof I provide is closer to reality.

      3. Anonymous said on October 12, 2017 at 1:35 am

        Just be aware that your fingerprint is unique with Waterfox. You’ll need to spoof Firefox and hope both browsers are close enough to be a reliable spoof. (Failed spoof being worse than no spoof)

        The browser fingerprints may diverge further over time. It’s really annoying that a browser needs market share to be privacy-protective, but that’s how it goes… Also, it’s bad for innovation.

    2. Anonymous said on October 11, 2017 at 3:38 pm

      Does that look pre-Australis enough ?

      This is Firefox 57.

    3. msel said on October 11, 2017 at 2:28 pm

      Use PaleMoon browser (fork of Firefox) – they don’t use Australis and the browser is updated regulary (version 27.5.1 from 10th october).

  13. Ben said on October 11, 2017 at 1:36 pm

    I’m sure the Mozilla management is paid by google to crash FF.

  14. Appster said on October 11, 2017 at 12:11 pm

    Good luck prevailing with this model against Google, which is quite able to offer such services free of charge (more correctly: in exchange for your data). Do they need the money so badly? Aren‘t the 300 million they receive annually not sufficient?

    1. Anonymous said on October 11, 2017 at 3:37 pm

      That’s a model that quite suits ProtonMail guys.

      No ads, no data collection, best encryption, and if you want to get invested you have options to pay and get more. I didn’t.

    2. AnorKnee Merce said on October 11, 2017 at 1:59 pm

      Greed often has no boundaries, eg M$ and Win 10 – businesses and professionals who buy high-end OEM ‘Win 10 Pro for Workstations’ computers will have to pay more money to M$ compared to paying for the previous OEM Win 10 Pro computers.

      Most people view the exchange of free stuffs from Google for their data being collected by Google, to be used for getting revenue from ads, marketers and app sales, as a fair trade, eg use Google Search for free in exchange for the display of targeted ads on their computers. This is not very different from the business model of free-to-air TV companies like ABC, CBS, FOX, etc.
      … In comparison, M$ charge their customers for Win 10 license fees(eg about US$30 for a non-transferable OEM license for Win 10 Home or US$119 for a transferable Retail license) and yet M$ still use their customers’ data to display targeted ads on the customers’ Win 10 computers. That’s an unfair trade.

  15. Franck said on October 11, 2017 at 12:11 pm

    Very interesting, thanks Martin !

  16. Yuliya said on October 11, 2017 at 11:59 am

    >Now You: What freemium services do you think could Mozilla offer in the future?

    Whatever it is, I’m sure it’ll be obnoxiusly placed somewhere in the UI, with no option to be easily removed by the end-users who are not interested in their service, and most likely will be spyware-tier, just like Pocket.

    Yesh.. I think it’s time to leave Mozilla. I’ll have to find an alternative to my ESR52, the sooner the better. My only problem is that most browsers fall in their head when you hand them over 8000+ bookmarks to deal with.

    1. Anonymous said on October 11, 2017 at 3:34 pm

      If you leave Mozilla Thunderbird, I recommend you ProtonMail, the largest and arguably best encrypted email service in the world ATM. It is not compatible with Thunderbird so they will offer their own secure client.

      Their mail is free, and they also have a VPN with a free version.

      Their business model is freemium. Very respectable guys.

  17. Value said on October 11, 2017 at 11:56 am

    It’s been a while since I read anything good about Mozilla and Firefox. The same goes for M$ and Windows. Maybe they share a common think (figure of speach) tank?

  18. Thorky said on October 11, 2017 at 11:27 am

    Well, why not Bitcoin-Mining with Firefox? In case of Mozilla I even would allow it. :)

    1. HK-Rapper said on October 11, 2017 at 12:27 pm

      Mining, are you insane? Electricity is VERY expensive where I live. However I’d pay for a Firefox subscription that gives me a download to a 100% telemetry free, Cliqz malware free, pocket free, junkware free version.

      Mozilla have lost their way, at this point it is better the users pay them than Google and other companies. Not all developers work there for free.

      Of course the situation is not as bad yet as it may sound from my post, but I’m worried about their future and the future of Firefox.

      Sent from a system with FF 58 and FF 52 ESR.

      1. John said on October 12, 2017 at 1:39 am

        “Firefox needs to do well for Waterfox to exist.”

        The guy who works on Waterfox apparently turned down the opportunity to collaborate on the new platform code fork from the creaters of Pale Moon, that will be used in an upcoming browser called Basilik.

        I don’t claim to really be able to understand how this technology works, but my understanding is that the platform code is sort of the guts of things and the most difficult to maintain. The same Mozilla platform code used to be used in tons of things in addition to Firefox, like Thunderbird and a music player and whatever. You can take a common platform code and then each add your own smaller application code and make things totally different product on the user side. The platform code has the rendering engine and the other stuff that really has to be kept up to date and is where forks sometimes struggle to operate without forking in new code from Mozilla frequently, though.

        In theory, the Basilik platform code could eventually be the common platform code for both Pale Moon and the Basilik web browser, and the Basilik browser and Pale Moon would still look completely different (Basilik looks and acts somewhere like Firefox version 50ish, whereas Pale Moon has UI that is reminiscent of a much earlier version of Firefox and it’s own design philosophy that has evolved over the years) and each be compatible with different sets of add-ons and themes to some extent.

        So, in theory, Waterfox could maintain it’s own totally separate application code and identity, and also collaborate on platform code. All of these Firefox forks could. Why? Because the platform code is the hardest thing to keep up to date and work on. If you aren’t just accepting Mozilla’s code on every release in large doses, it’s unlikely you can keep up with the modern web on your own for very long. But if each of these browsers’ developers all worked on a common platform code together, they might be able to pull it off, and would still each have their separate application codes that would make each browser look and act like what they want it to.

        That’s a way for these browsers to survive without Mozilla or truly go in a different direction. But they need to be able to work together to some extent. I don’t understand why they don’t. As long as they don’t, they are to some extent tied to Mozilla’s decisions and it’s continued existence. Pale Moon is the least tied to Mozilla of any of them, but may still be unable to sustain things on their own in the long run without more collaborators- either people directly signing up as developers for them, or just people from other projects sharing the application code and helping with development of that.

        Right now Waterfox is just one guy and some random people who submit patches. That’s got to be concerning if he really wants to take the browser in a different direction. If he’s just cutting out some things and rebranding it, he may be able to keep up with that, but if he ever really wants to do something different, he needs to be more open to collaborating with other projects IMO. He has every right to do things the way he’s doing them, and if that’s the way he rolls, that’s totally cool and fine and whatever, but if he has bigger aspirations, he might try reaching out and collaborating with similar projects and really have a fighting chance at taking control of the direction of his browser rather than just being limited to whatever Firefox does, plus whatever minimal changes he can handle maintaining himself.

      2. HK-Rapper said on October 11, 2017 at 8:00 pm


        The free mentality is annoying me. Richard Stallman himself says you can pay for free and open source projects. You should not be required to, but you can definitely support them.

        By supporting Mozilla we can keep companies away that influence them. What else is Cliqz? A desperate attempt for funding.

      3. insanelyapple said on October 11, 2017 at 3:33 pm

        “However I’d pay for a Firefox subscription that gives me a download to a 100% telemetry free, Cliqz malware free, pocket free, junkware free version.”

        I’m trying to be polite here on ghacks but please mate, don’t give Mozilla more shitty ideas – they got plenty of these already and once they get rid of Eich, they’re falling deeper in cesspit they build themselves each damn Fx release. They don’t deserve any additional money and they cannot be trusted anymore.

        Moreover, the idea that you should pay someone to free you from being tracked while still having no clue if company/corporation aren’t abusing you “by mistake”, is just wrong by default.

      4. Appster said on October 11, 2017 at 2:04 pm


        > What will all the forks do if the mainline ceases to exist?

        Then they will cease to exist, as well. That’s not the point, though. I think users have a right to use a browser that does not spy on them without them noticing, even if the spy features might be opt-out instead of opt-in as it should be. I think by using Waterfox (also known as “Firefox minus the crap”) you make a statement. If enough people will do that Mozilla will hopefully change course. I am not optimistic about that, though, since many casual users simply don’t care enough about privacy.

      5. HK-Rapper said on October 11, 2017 at 1:42 pm


        What will all the forks do if the mainline ceases to exist? What you implied could be easily rephrased as:
        “Well even if the USA are gone, we still have Minnesota!”

        Firefox needs to do well for Waterfox to exist. Else we get outdated irrelevant code like Palemoon.

        Firefox is donationware. Right now they blow over 400k per year, tendency increasing:

      6. Appster said on October 11, 2017 at 12:57 pm

        „However I’d pay for a Firefox subscription that gives me a download to a 100% telemetry free, Cliqz malware free, pocket free, junkware free version.“

        Sounds like Waterfox to me. It is pretty much what you describe.

    2. Mystique said on October 11, 2017 at 11:46 am

      Sure because the battle to have a sleek and low resource browser starts at mining and additional cpu cycles being wasted… :/

      Mozilla is becoming very shady as it is so I wouldn’t put it past them to low-key fudge users each time they open up the extensions manager or about page… noooo that seems a little to far fetched… right… right…

      We might as well go back to a paid model for opera too.

      This is not in the spirit of open source community this project was founded upon.

      All the best to Waterfox and Pale Moon something tells me you will be needed more than ever soon.

    3. Nebulus said on October 11, 2017 at 11:41 am

      You could always install some shady extensions! I’m sure you will end up doing some bitcoin mining :)

      1. Appster said on October 11, 2017 at 5:26 pm

        @Caspy7: That’s because Mozilla reserves the right to do shady things with Firefox strictly for themselves. Remember that Cliqz incident that occurred not too long ago?

      2. Caspy7 said on October 11, 2017 at 5:06 pm

        Mozilla has already removed some extensions which have added mining to their code. My current understanding is they have zero tolerance for that code being included in any extension.

        Given that every one gets manually reviewed*, finding shady extensions becomes a challenge on the addons site (notably in comparison to Chrome’s store).

        * Yes, currently after acceptance

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