Mozilla Chair Explains Decision To Make Firefox Ad-Supported

It's hard to think of a product like Firefox, which has been one of the shining examples of how a free, open source project can become prevalent and popular, would seriously consider the addition of in-browser advertising. Yet, that's exactly what's happening right now and as expected, fans have not taken kindly to suggestion, leaving Mozilla chair Mitchell Baker to defend the organisation's decision.

In a post on Baker's blog, Lizard Wrangling, she explains that adding sponsored "tiles" is another way for Firefox to provide users with something "potentially useful", in the same way sponsored search results are. The idea however is not to go overboard, with only a few tiles being populated in this fashion:

The gist of the Tiles idea is that we would include something like 9 Tiles on a page, and that 2 or 3 of them would be sponsored — aka "ads." So to explicitly address the question of whether sponsored tiles (aka "ads") could be included as part of a content offering, the answer is yes.

Baker goes on to say that the ads would not feature any sort of tracking and stresses the driving motivation is to add value to the browser while also supporting ongoing development.

Sadly, it's not the most convincing of arguments and while I'm sure users can sympathise with the organisation's need to find new revenue streams, it's hard to see Baker's position being warmly embraced. That said, she does finish on the point that more details will be revealed in the "coming days".

Mozilla clarifies, defends Firefox ad position [Mitchell's Blog, via ZDNet]


Comments

    Unless they make the tiles page a compulsory, and locked in thing, I doubt it will be an issue. I don't even see that page when I've closed the last tab the page stays blank, and my home page is a personal choice...! I've been a FF user from the beginning, tried Chrome, etc. but FF is just more customisable:)

    Last edited 15/02/14 2:03 pm

    Perhaps they wouldn't need the revenue from ads if they stopped wasting time and money on Firefox OS. Just be a web browser!

      Firfox OS just might make enough money to keep FireFox going without ads...!

    Hopefully the ads can be disabled in the settings somewhere, if they can then I guess its fine to add this 'feature' if not, I'll likely be switching from Firefox after all these years, even during the major Chrome invasion when everyone was starting to use and plug Chrome as the go to browser.

    But...it's not the 1st of April yet....

    "Baker goes on to say that the ads would not feature any sort of tracking and stresses the driving motivation is to add value to the browser"

    I believe that what she may have actually meant to say was that:

    "the ads would not feature any sort of tracking, which, yes, I know is really not the truth because the whole point of browser advertising IS for user tracking and individually targeting advertising purposes - which essentially increases our bottom line profit, but let's not go into that just now. As most of our users are not that technologically literate or security conscious, they probably won't even realise it's happening."

    and stresses:
    "the driving motivation is to add value to the browser, but really, that isn't the driving factor - I know that, but I need to make this sound like it's a good thing! I mean, it's really just a way to increase our profits through individually targeted advertising but I'd rather give you some short and sweet PR speak to make it all sound innocent and acceptable to digest, so hopefully, you won't all switch to Chrome."

    If AdBlock doesn't block this quickly, then I anticipate Firefox's marketshare plummeting.

    See the smart thing would be to provide "premium membership" for say $5 a year to remove ads.
    Then you get a paid subscriber base, more constant income - and you don't treat users who might be prepared to support OSS the same as everyone else.

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