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”.