Yahoo Ousts Google as Firefox's Default Search Engine, Previews Redesign

Portal Is Set to Debut Google-Like Search Redesign

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Yahoo has found a way to further boost its search advertising business. Making it sweeter? It's at Google's expense.

The portal has replaced Google as the default search engine for Mozilla's Firefox web browser. The deal between Yahoo and Mozilla is for five years and be limited to Firefox's desktop and mobile browsers in the U.S., the companies announced Wednesday afternoon. Other terms of the deal were not disclosed.

"At Yahoo, we believe deeply in search - it's an area of investment, opportunity and growth for us," said Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer in a statement. "This partnership helps to expand our reach in search and also gives us an opportunity to work closely with Mozilla to find ways to innovate more broadly in search, communications, and digital content."

The deal is a coup for Ms. Mayer, who was one of Google's original engineers working on search before leaving the company in 2012 to lead Yahoo. Search is among Yahoo's biggest bright spots at the moment. In its most recently completed quarter and for the first time under Ms. Mayer, Yahoo made more money from search advertising than display advertising, traditionally the company's biggest revenue contributor.

Yahoo's search business should get a bump from the deal, assuming users don't switch their browsers to Google or another search engine as their default. Firefox has seen its share of the desktop browser market fall from second behind Microsoft's Internet Explorer to third behind Google's Chrome browser, but still commands a 14% share of the global desktop browser market, according to internet statistics firm Net Market Share.

Google has held at least a 70% share of U.S. search ad revenues since 2010, while Yahoo's share fell to 6.1% in 2013, according to eMarketer estimates. The research firm projects Yahoo's share will dip to 5.6% this year.

Coinciding with the deal, Yahoo will roll out a redesigned search engine next month to Firefox users in the U.S. before it's available to all Yahoo users early next year. Based on an animated GIF posted by Yahoo and embedded below, the new search results pages appear more visual than the portal's current design. They also look similar to Google's search results pages.

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