Google Is Practically Begging Firefox Users To Switch Their Default Search Engine

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It almost looks desperate. Google has placed a big, new message above its organic search results that asks — practically begs — Firefox users to make Google their default search engine.

While searching tonight, I suddenly came across the giant … alert? ad? request? … that you see above. It looks a bit like a Google Onebox, but says “Switch your default search engine to Google” and has a button to “Learn how” and another button that says “No, thanks.”

Danny Sullivan, our founding editor, also tested this and saw the same switch request I saw. And the folks at IPIX Solutions saw it tonight, too, and tweeted about it.

Why would Google give up the top two-plus inches of its search results page like this? It goes back to the November announcement that Mozilla was dropping Google in favor of Yahoo as the default search engine in its Firefox web browser. Even as the No. 3 browser with about 16 percent market share (according to StatCounter), Firefox still drives a substantial number of searches.

Since the deal was announced, Yahoo’s search share rose from 8.6 percent in November (again, StatCounter estimates) to 10.9 percent in January. According to comScore, Yahoo’s market share in the US jumped from 10.2 percent in November to 11.8 percent in December. More recently, though, there are signs that Yahoo’s market share may have hit a ceiling, at least in terms of the immediate bump from its deal with Mozilla.

The switch request showing tonight isn’t Google’s first attempt to lure back Firefox users. We documented a number of other messages that have been shown to Firefox users — but none of those were placed right inside Google’s search results like this.

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