Recently, I’ve heard from a few readers with questions about an appeal for money in their Firefox browser. Some of you wanted to know if it was a legitimate request and others were annoyed that their browser was asking for money. Here’s the request they saw:
Yes, this is indeed a legitimate request. Let me explain why Mozilla is asking for money. Chrome is a product of Google, a highly profitable company. Internet Explorer and Edge are from Microsoft, also a profitable company.
Firefox comes from Mozilla. The Mozilla Corporation is a not-for-profit corporation. Mozilla’s goal is to provide free and open source software and sees such software as an important public resource. They are also committed to educating the public and promoting computer literacy. While the Firefox browser is free, Mozilla does make money from other sources. At one time, they took in a lot of cash from Google for making it the default search engine of the browser. They lost quite a lot of money when they switched to Yahoo!, though they still raked in quite a lot of money. As a non-profit, the money goes back into Mozilla instead of being distributed to shareholders.
Firefox’s share of the browser market has declined in the past few years as Chrome has enjoyed increased popularity. Firefox has fallen to less than 5% of the desktop market share. Right now it’s jus a little bit ahead of Microsoft Edge.
Mozilla wants the donations to continue what it considers to be the important task of advocating for open-source software and privacy legislation as well as funding educational programs for web literacy. You are certainly not required to donate to keep using Firefox.