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Google Hits Back at Mozilla, Urges Firefox Users to Switch Their Default Search Engine to Google

google-logoGoogle has long been using subtle tricks to suggest that web users switch to its browser, and now it has adopted less than subtle techniques to get Firefox users to switch their default search engine.

If you’ve used a recent vintage of Firefox then you might have noticed that it now defaults to Yahoo as its search engine, and not Google. Mozilla made the change in November as part of a 5 year strategic partnership between Mozilla and Yahoo, and this week Google returned fire.

If someone uses Firefox to search for something in Google, they just might see this prompt before the search results:

google nag firefox

The gray box suggests that users switch, and it offers a blue button with links to instructions on how to make the change, plus a gray opt out button.

Call it outright vindictive or extremely competitive, that is Google’s blatant helpful suggestion that users would be happier with its services than with whichever search engine is set as a default.

This isn’t the first time that Google has put its interests ahead of its users. They’ve long blighted its search results page with so many ads that for some terms the actual organic search results have been pushed off the screen.

Google also briefly marred its home page with an advert for the Nexus 7, and for as long as I can recall they’ve pitched the built-in translation features of Chrome whenever I used Google Translate in Firefox.

So while this latest move could annoy some users, it’s not a surprise. And it’s probably also an unnecessary move for Google.

While Google’s share of the search engine market has dipped since the Mozilla-Yahoo deal, Google has only lost a single percentage point in the past three months. According to Statcounter, Google still lays claim to 87.8% of the global search engine market. Yahoo and Bing each account for under 5% of the market, so I wouldn’t say that they are real threats to Google’s dominance, but it’s worth noting that Google share of the search engine market is the lowest it’s been since Statcounter first started tracking this market in 2008.

We could be seeing the beginning of Yahoo and Bing nibbling away at Google, a trend which could intensify later this year when Google’s deal with Apple to be the default search engine in Safari comes up for renewal. Things could get even more interesting should Google lose out on this deal, especially if Yahoo manages to land it.


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Name (required) March 16, 2015 um 1:01 pm

My default search engine and I did get that helpful advice. Repeatedly. I was extremely annoyed.

Common Sense March 16, 2015 um 1:20 pm

I’ve been a Yahoo user since their very beginning and have rarely used Google as a search engine, although I do use Chrome for my main browser. However, since I’m a QA Manager, I use many browsers and don’t appreciate additional browser war crap displayed while I’m working, it’s bad enough that none of them can agree on standards, making web testing a pain in the butt.

I’ll use the browser I deem appropriate for the task, thank you very much.

Becki March 16, 2015 um 2:31 pm

Long ago switched to DuckDuckGo as my default search engine, regardless of which browser I use (and I find I have to switch between different browsers depending on what I’m trying to do). Just did a Google search out of curiosity but didn’t get that notice. I’d ignore it even if I had.

anothername March 16, 2015 um 3:19 pm

I second duckduckgo. Stupid fricking name, but it’s not censored and spammed like google.

DebbyS March 16, 2015 um 8:25 pm

I’ve used duckduckgo for a long time. I think the name is cool. But, probably like everyone else, I will tell folks "I googled" this or that… then often add "But I used duckduckgo". I think Google should be proud of the fact they have become a verb and not get into pi$$ing contests that are unbecoming to them…

Maria (BearMountainBooks) March 16, 2015 um 6:40 pm

None of them are great, but google and yahoo are the WORST.

R March 17, 2015 um 12:10 am

I have decided to use Yahoo as my main search engine from now on since Google is now playing tricks like this.

puzzled March 17, 2015 um 4:08 am

I miss Alta Vista…

Roder51 April 5, 2015 um 11:39 am

So much for their motto "Do no evil!" What a bunch of crap that was. They have brought the word 'Bully' to an all time high! Screw Google. I use duckduckgo.

Zobva July 26, 2015 um 4:14 pm

I’ve always used Google as my preferred search engine, and have always had my browsers set to default to Google search. I even have used the Google site as my home page for years.
No more; this is the last straw. How stupid is it for Google to annoy their faithful users with the nag who ALREADY have Google set as their default search engine in FIrefox?!

I’m switching to Yahoo. Thanks a lot, Google idiots.

Dean Gibson July 27, 2015 um 8:20 pm

Before I use Chrome, Google will have to fix it on Android, so that it can display local HTML files (and linked-to associated files) on the device. The original Android browser could do that before Google crippled it and then replaced it with Chrome. Firefox (on Android) can display local HTML files (and linked-to associated files) on the device.

Since my main use of Android tablets is to display such (downloaded) HTML files, Chrome is a non-starter.

Note to Google: quit treating your users like idiots, or the only ones you have left will be idiots (kinda like Apple).

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