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Mozilla's relationship with Google, its main source of income, has become complicated since the release of Chrome as an alternative to Firefox, Mozilla's head honcho has admitted.

John Lilly, Mozilla's chief exec, described the relationship with Google as cordial but "complicated" since the release of Chrome in September.

"We have a fine and reasonable relationship. But I'd be lying if I said that things weren't more complicated than they used to be," Lilly said last week, Computerworld reports. Around 88 per cent ($60m) of Mozilla's revenues for 2007 comes from Google, so it's no surprise that the role of Google as main paymaster and significant competitor, since the release of Chrome, is creating a certain awkwardness.

Google released the first full version of Chrome earlier this month. More significantly, from Mozilla's perspective, it replaced Firefox with Chrome as the default browser software in its Google Pack application bundle.

Lilly defended the relationship with Google by pointing out that vendors in many areas of IT compete on some fronts while co-operating in others.

"Companies cooperate in certain areas and compete in other areas all the time. We're cooperating with Google because we believe that search is a fundamental entry point to the web, and right now Google gives the best search experience."

Lilly hinted at plans by Mozilla to partner with country-specific search developers and to gain more revenue from mobile browsing, where rival Opera enjoys a successful presence. Mozilla is working on plans to develop a browser capable of running on smartphones running either Windows Mobile or Linux, with the release of the final version of the software (currently in Alpha) due next year.

Need for speed

The development teams of both Chrome and Firefox are working on improved JavaScript engines.

Dean Hachamovitch, general manager of Microsoft's Internet Explorer division, recently criticised the increased focus on speed of performance that has accompanied increased competition in the browser market as a "drag race".

Lilly criticised Hachamovitch's take that these developments might be of questionable relevant to mainstream internet users. "It's a pretty good time to be a browser user. There are more smart people hacking on browsers than in a long time. But when I hear Dean [Hachamovitch] say JavaScript performance is for crazy guys to worry about, then that worries me," he said

According to statistics from Net Applications, Firefox counts for 21 per cent of the browser market, with IE still some way ahead on 70 per cent and Chrome somewhat under performing with just 0.8 per cent. Lilly expressed confidence that Mozilla can maintain its momentum. ®

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