Google pays a lot of money to make its search engine the default on products like Firefox and Apple’s Safari browser, but Microsoft might try to buy its way into your browser of preference.
According to a report from The Information (via Android Police), Microsoft plans to make a bid to get Bing as the default Firefox search engine when Google’s contract with Mozilla expires later this year. Back in 2020, Mozilla renewed a three-year contract to keep Google as the default search engine in Firefox. The cost? Reportedly between $400 million and $450 million USD (roughly $535 million to $602 million CAD) per year — chump change for a company like Google.
However, just because Microsoft makes a bid doesn’t mean Bing will replace Google as the Firefox default. Google will also want to keep Google as the default on Firefox, so it may come down to who’s willing to give Mozilla more cash for the privilege.
That said, Microsoft has invested heavily in Bing recently, most notably with the rollout of Bing Chat, a chatbot powered by a large language model (LLM). With Bing Chat, Microsoft is pushing hard to get people to switch to Bing, and the company made it clear that its primary goal is to pull users from Google.
Interestingly, Microsoft has so far leveraged Bing Chat as an incentive to get people to use its Chromium-powered Edge browser and it’s not available on other browsers, like Firefox. Microsoft does plan to expand Bing Chat to other browsers, though, so that might change.
However, even if Microsoft did win the contract, there’s no guarantee that it would boost Bing’s use, or that any Firefox users would leave it as the default. Firefox’s usage has been steadily shrinking over the last several years (even though the browser is really good), and chances are if you’re already making the effort to switch your default browser to Firefox, you also know how to change your default search engine.
As for Bing in Safari, Apple’s contract with Google is slated to expire next year. By most recent reports, Google paid an estimated $20 billion USD (about $27 billion CAD) to Apple to keep its search engine as the default in Safari. That’s an insane amount of money, and I’m not sure Microsoft would be willing to outbid Google for Safari (but I could be wrong).
Of course, none of this is set in stone yet, but it certainly sounds like we’ll see some bidding wars between Google and Microsoft in the coming years. Whatever ends up happening, I suspect Mozilla and Apple will walk away richer for it.