Firefox Flame Burning Out? Google Snatches Key Mozilla Developers

Reports indicate that Google has hired two key Mozilla/Firefox developers, and people are speculating wildly on what could lie behind this move.

One particular line of thought is that Google is getting into the browser business, and this apparently spells certain doom for Opera. Everything Google touches turns into gold, and Opera cannot possibly compete with the search engine giant, some people say.

Such comments face a few problems, of course. We are assuming that Google is working on a browser, and we are assuming that they will continue to contribute to Firefox. We are also forgetting that Opera's market share is hardly big enough at this time to see any kind of significant and sudden drop in the number of users, even with yet another (presumably) free browser on the market. Opera users have made a conscious decision to use Opera, and yet another browser probably won't make much of a difference to them.

But let me return to one important point: These Mozilla developers will continue to contribute to Mozilla/Firefox, for now. But what if Google does indeed want to release its own browser, or what if Google needs them for other projects, even if they are not planning to release their own browser? Opera's position remains unchanged, but Mozilla has lost two key developers to Google.

A Google browser could turn out to be a bigger challenge to Firefox than Opera by taking away resources from Firefox and other Mozilla projects. Opera, on the other hand, is still an independent software company with paid programmers devoting their time to the product.

In the end, this is all speculation, and no one knows what will happen. In all likelihood, neither Opera nor Firefox will die as a result of something Google does. If anything, a Google browser could only help in raising awareness around alternative browsers, and, if based on a standards-compliant engine, would promote standards compliant Web pages.

And the headline of this journal entry is, of course, sensationalist nonsense, inspired by countless imaginative headlines about Opera 🙂

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3 thoughts on “Firefox Flame Burning Out? Google Snatches Key Mozilla Developers

  1. a really interesting development, no matter what Google's motivation was. possibly just to help out by paying the salararies of the developers, but potentially much more. one wouldn't think that Mozilla would have much of a problem paying the developers, what with Mitch Kapor at the top of the Open Source and MozDev heap.

  2. I think independence is in fact the master-word.
    Eradicating bad code, improving it is one thing. But code is not only dangerous when wrong, but also when tied-up with business oriented partners, when business is or has become dictatorship as a leading policy orientation.

    This is also the reason why I have adopted Opera. A hope of lasting freedom by means of independence.

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