Mozilla, the maker of open source browser Firefox, is by no means strapped for cash; although the said browser is offered free of charge, the foundation has a lucrative search deal with Google.
Some of the revenue also comes thanks to its controversially proprietary online bookmarking service Pocket, and some from sponsored content and donations.
But although the Google deal is sweet – Mozilla is very dependent on it and nervous about the prospect, however unlikely, of losing it. Therefore it always seems be on the lookout for new revenue streams.
True, most of the attempts Mozilla has made over the years have failed: from its own operating system, meant to power mobile and IoT devices, to its own phone. Finally, there seems to be awareness that Mozilla's sole competence is in the browser business – and now it's time to try to make more money there.
And the plan is a tried and tested one, already used by many of the most successful open source companies who give their products away for free, but charge for support and/or services.
Mozilla's plans were revealed in an interview that CEO Chris Beard gave to German media.
In the interview, Beard confirmed that about 90 percent of the organization's revenue currently comes from Google and that the ideas now being considered for a future Firefox Premium include a VPN service, and secure storage – obviously, for those willing to pay.
This means that “regular” Firefox users might be offered a free basic VPN, while paying customers would get a more comprehensive service.
Firefox would not be the only browser with a built-in VPN – and Beard did not reveal if it would be a Mozilla product or a collaboration with an existing service. However, he did say that adding more subscription services was the business model the foundation is aiming for.
And Firefox Premium could see the light of day as early as this October, according to the report. Another possibility is that Firefox users from the “free” tier may be given a free trial of the new services – before being given an opportunity to start paying.