Mozilla could become one of the first major players to offer a paid browser. Speaking to T3N, CEO Chris Beard said the company will launch a premium, subscription version with additional functionality.
Among other things, the browser would offer security features like a VPN and secure cloud storage. The idea is to appeal to customers who require a little extra while opening another revenue stream.
“We were founded on the belief that the internet should be open and accessible to all. A high-performing, free and private-by-default Firefox browser will continue to be central to our core service offerings,” said Beard. “We also recognize that there are consumers who want access to premium offerings, and we can serve those users too without compromising the development and reach of the existing products and services that Firefox users know and love.”
The move could address some long-term criticisms of Mozilla. Though the company is a privacy advocate, 90% of its sales come from search partnership royalties and not all of those search engines are privacy conscious. The other 10 percent comes from the cloud-based offline bookmarking app Pocket, which comes with its own privacy considerations.
A premium service for its most dedicated users should reduce the reliance on third-party partners like these. Though the Mozilla Foundation is a non-profit, the Mozilla Corporation is a taxable business with overheads and research and development costs. Though all profits go back into the foundation, a lack of revenue would make it a struggle for Firefox to stay in-line with the competition.
On the other hand, some users may be concerned that features will ship to Firefox Premium that would have previously been available for free. Beard says that there are no plans to charge for services that are currently free, but it’s unclear what the future feature roadmap will look like.
We should find out more on pricing and features soon, with a Firefox Premium release targeted for October.