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Why Google Will Still Support Firefox Even With Chrome

Chief Executive of Mozilla John Lilly has posted a blog about what he thinks of the browser activity over the last week. While he briefly mentions Internet Explorer 8 Beta 2, Lilly’s post mainly focuses on Google’s open source browser and how it will affect the relationship between Mozilla and Google.

Concerned that people may be asking what Chrome means for Firefox, Mr. Lilly said that with competition comes innovation. Chrome won’t mean much for Firefox other than add another browser to Mozilla’s list of competitors. However the pressure to surpass competing companies means Firefox will be continuously evolving, with Mozilla working on adding more and more features all the time (he adds that Firefox 3.1 will be bring a “truckload” of new features).

Lilly goes on to assure users that nothing will change with regard to the relationship between Mozilla and Google. A long time supporter of Firefox, Google and Mozilla have worked together on several levels, most recently on BreakPad, a crash report system. However, technical partnerships aside, the two have worked together to develop products, not to mention financial collaborations. Lilly says none of this will change and Google and Mozilla “should” continue to work together.

“Mozilla and Google have always been different organizations, with different missions, reasons for existing, and ways of doing things. I think both organizations have done much over the last few years to improve and open the Web, and we’ve had very good collaborations that include the technical, product, and financial,” explained Lilly. “So all those aligned efforts should continue.”

Mr. Lilly said Mozilla had just renewed its “economic arrangement” with Google through November 2011, so it’s clear that Mozilla’s decision to retain the ties with Google is not one-sided and the Mountain View company wants to continue its support for Firefox — leading us to the question of why Google is backing one if its upcoming biggest competitors.

There could be a couple of reasons for this. Reason one could be that both Firefox and Chrome are both open source. Google’s browser incorporates bits of WebKit and pieces of Firefox. What better way to give back to the company that gave your product life than proffering a helpful hand?

Reason two is a little more likely. Lilly pointed out the simple fact that "Google’s business is the web."

As a company, Google generates most of its revenue from people using its search engine. Google is already the number one search engine in the market and left Yahoo! and Microsoft in the dust a long time ago. Already number one, the company needs to encourage more people to use the web so that more people use Google.

Google is looking for the perfect browser. Chrome is an attempt to keep users happy by creating a browser that is cleaner, lighter and faster. Although Google is pushing the Chrome thing, it’s clear from the company’s decision to continue to support Firefox financially shows that it doesn’t care who’s number one in the browser business, nor does it care who creates the best browser. Google just wants there to be a number one browser attracting more users and making the web more appealing to those who are perhaps a bit more apprehensive about it. Long story short, Mozilla isn’t the only one thinking competition means innovation.

Chrome is released for download today but Google has yet to give us an ETA. We’ll update when we know more.