It's often easy to forget that even though Mozilla gives away its flagship product, the Firefox web browser, Mozilla itself still generates millions in revenues from Firefox usage.
Mozilla today publicly released its financial statements for 2009, reporting $104 million in revenue for the year. The 2009 revenue tally is a 34 percent increase over 2008, when Mozilla reported $78 million.
Mozilla's revenues have been on a steep rise over last four years. Back in 2005, Mozilla reported revenues of only $53 million. The increase in revenue comes as new challenges arise from competitive browsers and mobile platforms.
"The majority of Mozilla revenue continues to be generated from the search functionality included in Mozilla's Firefox product from organizations such as Google, Yahoo, Yandex, Amazon, EBay and a handful of others," Mozilla stated in annual report.
While revenues are on the rise at Mozilla, so too are the open source foundations expenses. For 2009, Mozilla reported expenses of $61 million up by 26 percent over the $49 million reported for 2008.
Much of Mozilla's expenses are tied to the staffing and funding of developers. In 2009, Mozilla funded approximately 250 people.
The growth in revenues at Mozilla during 2009 came as Google continued to push out new iterations of Chrome and as development and browsers began to move to mobile platforms. Mozilla now has a renewed mobile strategy with Firefox Mobile and is in the process of pushing out the next generation Firefox 4 web browser, set for general availability in early 2011.
"Mozilla is the underdog in our efforts to build participation and empowerment into the Internet," Mozilla's 2009 annual report states. "It's a big challenge to build our values into layers of the Internet where the commercial giants of our age are battling it out. Mozilla has always faced this kind of challenge."