Some things are just expected to be free, and that includes browsers. Whether you use Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Opera, Vivaldi, etc., it’s free. In addition to the price, we expect those browsers to have certain features.
Mozilla is challenging those expectations. The CEO announced the arrival of a premium version of Firefox. Yes, that means you’ll have to pay for it, to get features that you may already be expecting in a free version.
Premium Version of Firefox
Chris Beard, the CEO of Mozilla, mentioned in an interview with t3n that a premium version of Firefox will arrive in the fall.
The obvious question is how will the premium version differ from the free version? What will make it worth it to pay for something that traditionally has been free?
The premium version of Firefox could offer VPN and cloud storage, but it’s unclear how certain these are as features. Beard offered a situation the premium Firefox could help with. He suggested a user wanting to do online banking while using public Wi-Fi. Using the premium Firefox, the regular version of Facebook would provide a “certain amount of free VPN bandwidth and then offer a premium level over a monthly subscription.”
The CEO made it clear that anyone who currently enjoys Firefox needn’t worry about suddenly being charged for what has historically been free. All those features will still be free.
This is an idea that Mozilla has been toying with. Last year they partnered with ProtonVPN and offered a small, random group of Firefox users in the United States a subscription for $10 a month. Mozilla suggested at the time they were “explor[ing] new, additional sources of revenue that align with [its] mission.” It seems clear if they were “exploring” then, that it was something they were interested in doing.
Senior vice president of Firefox, Dave Camp, offered more about the premium Firefox in a statement: “We were founded on the belief that the Internet should be open and accessible to all. A high-performing, free, and private-by-default Firefox browser will continue to be central to our core service offerings.
“We also recognize that there are consumers who want access to premium offerings, and we can serve those users, too, without compromising the development and reach of the existing products and services that Firefox users know and love.”
Will this Start a New Trend?
This begs the question if this is going to start a new trend. Browsers are always free. But will they now start to charge as well any time they add a feature? Will they all follow Mozilla’s model?
It seems like a slippery slope we’re heading toward. Do you see it the same way? Would you pay for a browser with better options? Or do you think browsers should just always be free regardless? Add your thoughts in the comments below and let us know what you think about Mozilla’s plans to charge for the Firefox browser.