Russian Language Firefox Will Feature Google As Default Browser
June 11, 2012

Russian Language Firefox Will Feature Google As Default Browser

An interesting change is about to occur in the global browser battles as Firefox rolls out its latest version in the Russian market. No longer will Russian search engine Yandex be the default browser, instead, Russians will see Google search results.

The Yandex search service, which was added as the default option in Russian-language Firefox builds starting in early 2009, has a market share in Russia of approximately 60 percent while Google currently enjoys about 26.5 percent, writes Edward Moyer for CNET.

The switch was triggered by the multi-year agreement that Mozilla and Google struck last year, Mozilla´s chief counsel Harvey Anderson said Saturday.

“We recently selected Google as the default search partner for Firefox. These arrangements are often global in nature; consequently, we were not able to keep Yandex as the default search provider in the Firefox Russian builds.”

Although detailed financial arrangements were not reported, rumors claim that Google had guaranteed Mozilla $300 million annually, writes Gregg Keizer for Computer World.

This arrangement has caught some of its own Russian employees and contributors by surprise. “Right now it looks like [a] one-way move driven not by users or not for users...because there is not any discussion related to this change or even [a] survey like what search engine users prefer or willing to change,” said Konstantin Lepikhov in a June 5 message on the Bugzilla thread.

Leipkhov´s LinkedIn profile lists him as both a system administrator at Yandex and a project coordinator at Mozilla. That´s not unusual, as companies sometimes dedicate all or part of employees´ time to working with Mozilla on Firefox.

Alexander Slovesnik, who contributes to localizing Firefox for Russia, posted his thoughts as well. “There is nothing that explains this sudden change of default search engine in Firefox from most popular search provider to some other search provider,” Slovesnik wrote, also on Bugzilla. “This situation doesn´t help to build credibility and trust in Mozilla among Russian community of Firefox users.”

The impact on its revenue and profitability, Yandex noted, will be negligible.

The Mountain View, California-based search giant has always been keen on being the default search engine in browsers, partly because a lot of people increasingly search the web straight from the address bar.

A Yandex spokesperson noted, “Default search in a browser is not the only or the key factor that defines a share in the search market. As before, we will keep making our services better, improving their functionality, design, efficiency and comprehensiveness — as it is our firm belief that no matter what service the browser is equipped with, it will be used only if it satisfies users´ demands."

Yandex´s search share in Google Chrome that has more complicated settings for changing the default search than Firefox, is bigger that Google´s, which is the default search engine in this browser.

"A default search engine, however, does matter for beginner internet users or for those who still are not sure what search engine they prefer. That is why we will keep offering to visitors on our websites an option to choose Yandex as a default search engine in their browser — this is an easy way to use Yandex without typing the address for those who have been using it anyway.”