Former Mozilla VP Claims Google Sabotaged Firefox To Further Chrome Adoption
Firefox is a web browser that is used by lots of people, even if it's not the dominant browser on the market. That dominant browser is Google Chrome. Mozilla is the company behind Firefox, and it has worked hard to improve the browser with new features like increased security to protect users from cryptominers and other security issues. Mozilla also recently released a native ARM64 Firefox browser for Windows machines powered by Snapdragon processors. A former Mozilla executive is now claiming that Google undermined Firefox development.
Google was formerly a Mozilla business partner despite having a competing web browser during some of that partnership. According to former Mozilla executive Jonathan Nightingale, Google denied that compatibility problems with Firefox after Chrome launched were anything but accidental. Nightingale says that despite what some in Google stated, Mozilla and Google were not on the same team.
1. The question is not whether individual sidewalk labs people have pure motives. I know some of them, just like I know plenty on the Chrome team. They’re great people. But focus on the behaviour of the organism as a whole. At the macro level, google/alphabet is very intentional.— Johnathan Nightingale (@johnath) April 13, 2019
Nightingale says that decisions made by Google that ended up hurting Firefox were too frequent to be coincidences. Nightingale says that when he started with Mozilla in 2007 Chrome didn't exist and most folks he spoke with at Google were Firefox fans. In February of 2007, Firefox held 14% of browser user share with Internet Explorer in the lead with 79% of the browser market. Nightingale says that competition between Firefox and Chrome when it launched in 2008 surfaced in suspicious ways.
He says that Google Chrome ads began to appear next to Firefox search terms. He also claims that Gmail and Google Docs began to have selective performance issues and bugs on Firefox. Nightingale also claims that demo sites would falsely block Firefox as incompatible. He says that you are allowed to do this stuff to "compete" but when Firefox would ask what the deal was, Google would say the issues were accidental and would be fixed in the next two weeks. Nightingale says these accidents happened "over and over."
Mozilla didn't say much at the time because it was dependent on Google's money paid out to make Google search default on Firefox to keep the lights on. In the end, Nightingale doesn't blame Google for the decline in marketshare Firefox experienced noting that he takes more of the blame himself for his time as Firefox VP.