It looks like Google tripled its spending to keep its search engine the default choice in Mozilla’s Firefox browser. The usually well-connected Kara Swisher reportedt on the AllThingsD blog that Google had to up its spending, because the other contenders, namely Microsoft and Yahoo, were looking to replace the default choice in Firefox with their own search products.

It is worth noting that Yahoo’s search engine is powered by Microsoft’s technology. Furthermore, although Chrome recently surpassed Firefox as the second most frequently used browser in key markets, Microsoft’s Internet Explorer remains the leading web browser. The Windows maker also teamed with Mozilla on the “Firefox with Bing” initiative a few months ago. It is reasonable to assume that all those factors combined have led Google to outspend its rivals to keep its search engine the default choice in the Firefox browser.

According to Swisher:

The search giant will pay just under $300 million per year to be the default choice in Mozilla’s Firefox browser, a huge jump from its previous arrangement, due to competing interest from both Yahoo and Microsoft.

Google’s senior vice president of Search Alan Eustace said in a statement:

Mozilla has been a valuable partner to Google over the years and we look forward to continuing this great partnership in the years to come.

It is interesting to compare Google’s 2010 spending of $103 million on the Firefox search revenue, to 84 percent of Mozilla’s total 2010 revenue ($123 million). Mozilla, a non-profit organization, relies on search revenue agreements with search providers to fund operations and development of the Firefox browser and other products in its portfolio, such as the Firebird email client.

Around $300 million puts the total amount of a 3-year search deal, announced Tuesday, just shy of $1 billion. Moreover, that is the “minimum revenue guarantee for delivering search queries garnered from consumers using Firefox,” Swisher explained

So, how is that for a lifeline?

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