The New York Times askes whether success will spoil Firefox

Today in the New York Times, there is an article titled, “Will Success, or All That Money From Google, Spoil Firefox?

The article focuses on the amount of money that the Mozilla Foundation has generated through the deals that MoCo has with Google and other search providers. To quote the article:

The foundation has used a for-profit subsidiary, the Mozilla Corporation, to collect tens of millions of dollars in royalties from search engine companies that want prominent placement on the browser. And by collecting that money as a war chest to compete against giants like Microsoft and Apple, the foundation has, at least temporarily, moved away from the typical activities of a nonprofit organization. “The Mozilla community has been a bit hybrid in terms of integrating public and private investment all along — its history is fairly unique in this respect,” Professor O’Mahony said. So far, the many contributors to Firefox seem pleased with its financial success. The bigger question is what Mozilla will do with all its money.

Overall, the piece doesn’t really bring up anything really new, in my opinion. People have been wondering aloud and making comments for a while now about both the amount of money that the Mozilla Foundation has brought in, what the foundation is going to do with it, and the fact that most of it comes from partnering with Google. The less common question about what happens if Google decides not to continue the relationship was also raised but, again, nothing new was really said.

As a whole, the NYT piece really seems to be repeating the questions that have been raised before along with speculations about “what if…?” that are not terribly new. The only thing that I really saw that was new was the interviews/quotes with people that I have not seen comment up until now.

I did find it amusing, given the recent newspaper story in Seattle about the silence around Internet Explorer 8, that Dean Hachamovitz was quoted in this story and managed to raise concerns around the IE8 silence while discussing Mozilla:

“We are much more reserved about thinking out loud as we make the browser better,” he said. “I can go through and talk about all the innovations we have made, but we don’t talk about them until they are done. People make very important decisions based on what Microsoft says; we have a responsibility about what we say out loud.”

I find that kind of a poor excuse for their silence for an entire year about IE8. I also find it to be an odd comment in the middle of a newspaper article about success and the Mozilla Foundation. I wonder why the author of the piece decided to include it in an article about IE’s main competitor.

In any case, the NYT does not really raise any new issues or answer questions that some have had but it does continue to put the spotlight, to some extent, on “What next?” for the foundation. It has a lot of money in the bank. Some plans, like the ones for MailCo, are obviously in the works (though not even mentioned in the article) but this is obviously a question to be solved, over time, as the foundation moves forward.