Mozilla Rakes It In

by on January 3, 2007 · 10 comments

Via Mike Linksvayer, the Mozilla Foundation has reported that it took in $52.9 million in revenues in 2005, mostly from “our search engine relationships,” which I think mostly means payments from Google to have their search engine be the default in the FireFox toolbar. This more or less confirms rumors that were reported last year on Mozilla’s revenues.

This is fantastic news, and given that the search engine wars show no sign of abating, I have to imagine they earned similar revenues in 2006. This provides a big pot of money they can use to promote further improvements to FireFox and Mozilla’s other products, or to spend helping to support the work of open source developers working on other projects.

I occasionally see critics of open source software complain that their lack of revenues proves that “the market” has rejected open source software. But here we have a pretty clear counter-example. The Mozilla community has created a product that’s so valuable that they’ve stumbled upon a “business model” for it–almost by accident–that’s worth $50 million. And given that this is a product that’s given away for free to tens of millions of users, it’s a safe bet that if you could put a dollar figure on the total wealth created by the Mozilla project, it would be a lot larger than that.

  • http://enigmafoundry.wordpress.com/ enigma_foundry

    I occasionally see critics of open source software complain that their lack of revenues proves that “the market” has rejected open source software.

    Yes that argument has been made (Noel!) but I would make a different argument: the fact that open source projects can scrap by on so little revenue shows how efficient the open source model is.

  • http://enigmafoundry.wordpress.com eee_eff

    I occasionally see critics of open source software complain that their lack of revenues proves that “the market” has rejected open source software.

    Yes that argument has been made (Noel!) but I would make a different argument: the fact that open source projects can scrap by on so little revenue shows how efficient the open source model is.

  • http://weblog.ipcentral.info/ Noel Le

    ***I occasionally see critics of open source software complain that their lack of revenues proves that “the market” has rejected open source software.***

    Well well, Mr E, we meet again.

    Tim, my position is that FOSS is limited in its market viability due to the GPL license. I never said anything about FOSS not being profitable in general, nor have I said anything negative about licenses such as the BSD.

  • http://weblog.ipcentral.info/ Noel Le

    ***I occasionally see critics of open source software complain that their lack of revenues proves that “the market” has rejected open source software.***

    Well well, Mr E, we meet again.

    Tim, my position is that FOSS is limited in its market viability due to the GPL license. I never said anything about FOSS not being profitable in general, nor have I said anything negative about licenses such as the BSD.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/14019452 Steve R.

    Noel: The lack of revenue does not demonstrate that the market has rejected a product. I could for example sell a million units of Operating System XXX at $1.00 each and bring in $1M gross revenue. Microsoft of course could sell a million units of WindowsXP for $200 and get $200M in gross revenue.

    Given that scenario, the market is not rejecting Operating System XXX, it simply means that I (as the seller) am simply willing to accept less profit than Microsoft. However, if I can’t sell Operating System XXX or its sales decline over a period of time, then the market has rejected it. Conversely, if my operating system were to gain market share over Microsoft, even though it generates less revenue, I would say that the market is giving the seal-of-approval to my operating system.

    Also a product is not “limited in its market viability due to the GPL license.” Market viability is not a function of licensing, it is a function of how many programs/corporations see value in the product and use it.

  • http://www2.blogger.com/profile/14380731108416527657 Steve R.

    Noel: The lack of revenue does not demonstrate that the market has rejected a product. I could for example sell a million units of Operating System XXX at $1.00 each and bring in $1M gross revenue. Microsoft of course could sell a million units of WindowsXP for $200 and get $200M in gross revenue.

    Given that scenario, the market is not rejecting Operating System XXX, it simply means that I (as the seller) am simply willing to accept less profit than Microsoft. However, if I can’t sell Operating System XXX or its sales decline over a period of time, then the market has rejected it. Conversely, if my operating system were to gain market share over Microsoft, even though it generates less revenue, I would say that the market is giving the seal-of-approval to my operating system.

    Also a product is not “limited in its market viability due to the GPL license.” Market viability is not a function of licensing, it is a function of how many programs/corporations see value in the product and use it.

  • eric

    There is another measure of value. When I have a problem for which I am looking for a software solution, I invariably look at FOSS first. This is partly becaue I am cheap. It is also because, as a computer user who has paid good money for products that ultimately don’t perform well, and are needlessly bloated and hamstrung by their own complexity, my experience is that there are simple, efficient FOSS alternatives that fill my needs. Sometimes they are quirky, but usually no more quirky than commercial products. I love small programs that do simple tasks, that also do not try to commandeer my computer for other unwanted and unneeded tasks. I don’t know how to put a dollar value on this advantage. I could even say it is priceless.

  • eric

    There is another measure of value. When I have a problem for which I am looking for a software solution, I invariably look at FOSS first. This is partly becaue I am cheap. It is also because, as a computer user who has paid good money for products that ultimately don’t perform well, and are needlessly bloated and hamstrung by their own complexity, my experience is that there are simple, efficient FOSS alternatives that fill my needs. Sometimes they are quirky, but usually no more quirky than commercial products. I love small programs that do simple tasks, that also do not try to commandeer my computer for other unwanted and unneeded tasks. I don’t know how to put a dollar value on this advantage. I could even say it is priceless.

  • http://enigmafoundry.wordpress.com/ enigma_foundry

    There is another measure of value. When I have a problem for which I am looking for a software solution, I invariably look at FOSS first.

    Eric: the other measure is simply: utility.

    This is why I had observed a very high rate of FOSS interest/adoption among the cutting edge Pharma clients I had occasion to work with.

  • http://enigmafoundry.wordpress.com eee_eff

    There is another measure of value. When I have a problem for which I am looking for a software solution, I invariably look at FOSS first.

    Eric: the other measure is simply: utility.

    This is why I had observed a very high rate of FOSS interest/adoption among the cutting edge Pharma clients I had occasion to work with.

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