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May 08, 2007



"Firefox Makes 55mm A Year from Error Search"

The firefox default homepage (ie the start page) is google. I'd guess a large chunk of the $55m is home page traffic rather than error traffic.

***FS*** Good point "but" our purchase of search data shows that a significant clip comes as I described.. right of the dot error.

Christopher Ambler

Frank, while I agree with your point, I still can't agree with the call to action. ICANN is simply not going to do this, for a myriad of reasons.

If you want part of this revenue, your best bet is to create a browser plug-in that takes over the search functionality, and get people to install it by offering some *other* functionality in the plug-in that makes it a compelling offering.

You come up with the compelling function and I'll have you plug-ins for IE and Firefox that get the job done and split the profit with you.


Maybe we should organise a version of Firefox that's friendly to domain owners?

http://myfriendlyfox.com/ has versions for eBay, facebook etc. Why not one for us?

Tom McDonald

I wonder if having ICANN do it is the way to go? I've been thinking about this too and it sure would be nice if the maintainers of Bind and PowerDNS had a knob which handled these cases for us when setup as a recursive nameserver.

Perhaps OpenDNS would share their regex so everyone could be on the same page? And again, it could be built as a config option in (the equiv of...) named.conf.

In my view, the browser and nameserver authors ought to keep the user experience at the top of their list and do what's right. I'm sure it's just an oversight for the nameserver authors but the browser... that's GOT to be intentional and that's just plain ugly.

I guess the notion of ICANN getting involved makes me nervous; The reasons must be obvious to most. But I'm trying to keep an open mind for potential solutions.


Maybe we should organise a version of Firefox that's friendly to domain owners?

http://myfriendlyfox.com/ has versions for eBay, facebook etc. Why not one for us?

How much money is the USG making on taxes on worldwide Firefox use because of this?

Raymond Hackney

Excellent post Frank

Christopher Ambler

Put it in the DNS. Create a browser. Create a plug-in. You guys are coming up with solutions that everyone has been proposing for over a decade now to solve this very problem.

They're also "solutions" to another problem: that of other new TLDs. Back in '95 and '96 when it looked like IANA was going to create a whole bunch of new TLDs and then didn't, many thought of these solutions and tried them.

eDNS almost worked, in fact, but didn't get enough traction. Attempts to deal with major browser makers failed. Plug-ins didn't exist at the time, but it's the same idea.

It was well-known then, and still is, that if a major ISP were to inject themselves into the path, the game would be won. AOL, MSN, Earthlink, any one of them could do it.

And guess what? It's happened. That's exactly what Frank is talking about here: the browsers did it, but this time, instead of creating a new TLD, they just created a catch-all, knowing that the value of the search traffic is much more than selling domains in a single TLD.

Verisign attempted to do it with SiteFinder for the .com/.net zone alone, which would have pre-empted the browsers for the .com/.net zone, but since they were mucking with the DNS as a whole, the technorazzi created a fuss and got it shut down. Do they create a fuss about the browser? Not so much.

But how is distributing a domainer-friendly browser any different? Microsoft distributes a Microsoft-friendly browser. Firefox distributes a Firefox-friendly browser. Their distribution channels are orders of magnitude better than anything anyone else is going to come up with.

And if ICANN were, for some reason, to create these "shadow" TLDs, then they'd just be taking the issue up a level, pre-empting the Microsofts and Firefoxes, and asking for a fight. As the monopoly controller of top-level domains, do you honestly think Microsoft would sit by and not cry foul?

No, the only way you're going to get that search traffic away from the browser makers is to inject yourself into their stream by creating a plug-in that users feel compelled to install.

How much money can you afford to give away (call it $x) every day to get n users to install your plug-in? Give me values for x and n, and if they meet the bar I have in mind, I'll tell you how you can get n for $x.

Otherwise, in my opinion, this is wheel-spinning. And let me say that again, this is in my opinion - what do I know?

owen frager

I think you have the facts wrong. Isn't Firefox a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting open source? They even ask for donations:

***FS*** I didn't make the story up O' .. those guys are taking a boatload of error traffic and it's generating $.. if they spend it all so there's no profit, that doesn't change the dynamic .

Edwin Hayward

In this instance, I think your headline is rather over-sensational. There are many articles that confirm that the vast majority of Mozilla's revenue is through the search box built into Firefox (they have partnerships with other engines too, Google is just the default partner and pays a larger chunk of change for the privilege).

Google has also been running a long-standing referral campaign to get people to download a Firefox/toolbar combo, and you can bet Mozilla gets a piece of that action too.

Finally, bear in mind that (in general) people who are downloading Firefox are much more technically savvy than average, so they are going to be that much less likely to A) mistake the address bar as a "search bar" and B) type in typos.

That's not to say that all techies type well, but we're talking averages here.

***FS*** Edwin, I'm a FF fan too but you have to call a spade a spade.. There are "a lot" of right side of the dot typosquatter searches in both FF and IE .. Those browsers are exactly no-better that the worst/biggest cybersquatters when they steal traffic from legitimate websites by putting up a search-box error page on right of the dot traffic.. jmo

owen frager

And Apple is earning billions from taking search out of the equation by being the only option. As are many smart companies who realize that relying on search can loose more customers then it can deliver. Because you have no control over the outcome even if they type a name without dot into the search box, a keyword.com to a PPC page, or their customer makes a typo... in all cases wherever their prospect ends up, their competitors will be waiting.

It's like giving someone a reservation in Orlando and someone else putting a sign at the same franchise three miles before they land that says "all rooms $25." Unless you are in the drivers seat, you have no control over the final destination.

And that's the key to the mobile and Apple strategies. What would it be worth if Microsoft had to pay Apple $1 for every customer's access rights to their software? A lot less then it would cost Microsoft if the customer switched operating systems in order to use the tools they can't have on Microsoft plus all the same tools they can port from Microsoft to Apple.

That's the Apple story I've been trying to convey. My blog breaks more news tonight. It's bigger then Firefox because it delivers Google search to Microsoft users without needing Firefox at all.

And you haven't seen anything yet.

***FS*** I'm going to save this post as a dateline :) Looking forward to reading your blog.

Steve M.

Wow--worse even than I would have believed. Thanks Frank and everyone else for the enlightenment...

...gives a whole new meaning to the (Fire)fox guarding the hen(domain) house


I have to go with Edwin here Franky - you seem to be picking a bone when there isn't.

Do they redirect? Sure. But I don't think its any stretch of logic that they likely make *much more* from searches than typos.

***FS*** Totally fair comment Ahmed (you too Edwin). I accept that they make 'more' on the search than error.. but my bone of contention is with the error component. Which when you add them all up (dns timeout, fatfingered ext etc etc) is huge.


Here in China unresolved domains go to 114.vnet.cn at least from my ISP, Y/G must be pissed :)

***FS*** They probably have a partnership deal.




Enable it on your IE, then type:
rice, it will take you to rice.edu
oxford, it will take you to oxford uni.
live, it will take you to windows live site.
so on and so forth...

Two issues:

1) Cutting into Type-in traffic, if any on us had a toolbar and let user's download it, it would be considered as spyware.
2) How do they judge where the user really wants to go? in the rice example, Rice.com or Rice.edu? same with Live, what if the user wanted to go to live.info?


***FS*** Thanks Jeff, Great comment.



As far as I can tell, it is no longer possible with the new Gran Paradiso (code name for Firefox 3.0) to disable goto to the http://www.google.com/firefox page.

Its the first thing I do with my setups, removed all this baloney.

FireFox 3.0 by all indications is now Google's browser. http://santronics.blogspot.com/2007/05/gran-paradiso-googles-new-web-browser.html

On a related note, as FF is depended on Javascripting for its plug-ins and extensions, and its search logic is based on it, with more and more businesses operations depending on "Web 2.0" technology, these browser vendors will also have to remove the disabling of JavaScripting and Java. Otherwise, if the word gets out (users learn how to turn of Javascripting) Web 2.0 businesses will become vulnerable and unpredictable.

For a good indicator that turning of Javascripting is popular, take a look at the award winning "NoScript" plugin:


I installed this and its is wonderful in controlling funky javascripting.

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