Mozilla's vice president of Firefox, Jonathan Nightingale, has announced in a blog post that the company plans to perform some experiments in the coming months including the introduction of sponsored tiles upon Firefox's new-tab page.
Some rumours have previously suggested that Mozilla plans to ditch this project after too many complaints and objections from users. However Nightingale has now made it clear that Mozilla is moving ahead with implementing the money-spinning change, which was first proposed at an Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) conference back in February. The project will unhurriedly move forward as the company experiments with different new-tab page layouts which may well lead to include sponsored content in the future.
"These tests are purely to understand what our users find helpful and what our users ignore or disable – these tests are not about revenue and none will be collected," said Nightingale. "Sponsorship would be the next stage once we are confident that we can deliver user value."
According to Mozilla's official reasoning, the project is meant to be useful, especially for new Firefox users, since the new-tab page tiles are made up of pages regularly visited. For a new user with no browsing history it's obviously a bit useless, so some suggestions would be useful. The Mozilla properties and other "useful" (or in other words 'sponsored') content may benefit those first time users and help them grow into the Firefox browser. Importantly Nightingale has promised that Firefox will not be turned into a browser with "a mess of logos sold to the highest bidder; without user control, without user benefit."
With Mozilla's lack of other funding sources, besides deals with search engines (Google in particular) making up to around 97.9 per cent of revenue, it is hard to believe that the company only has first-time user experience on their minds. This is simply a new way for Mozilla to expand its revenue generating sources and a vital move towards replacing its Google income dependence.
We shall continue to watch what happens with the interesting commercial 'will they-won't they' Firefox dance. Would any HEXUS readers object strongly to sponsored site suggestions on the initial Firefox start page?