Adding fuel to the rumors that Google is going to introduce a proprietary browser, Google Inc. has hired the lead developer of the Firefox web browser, Ben Goodger away from the Mozilla Foundation. Despite a volume of circumstantial evidence such as the registration of the domain or its organization of open source programming events, Google has repeatedly denied speculation they are developing a web browser or an operating system. According to Google spokesperson Steven Langdon, Goodger will be working on products that enhance the browser experience such as the Google Toolbar and desktop search.

Goodger will also continue working on upgrades to the wildly popular browser he has fostered over the past 18-months. Google will be donating half his time back to the Mozilla Foundation. In a Monday morning post to the Mozillazine Blog, Goodger wrote about his new employment and continued role at Firefox stating,

“As of January 10, 2005, my source of income changed from The Mozilla Foundation to Google, Inc. of Mountain View, California. My role with Firefox and the Mozilla project will remain largely unchanged, I will continue doing much the same work as I have described above – with the new goal of successful 1.1, 1.5 and 2.0 releases. I remain devoted full-time to the advancement of Firefox, the Mozilla platform and web browsing in general.”

Firefox is quickly becoming the browser of choice for Internet professionals who appreciate the expandability of open source software. Over the past six months, millions of web users have migrated to the Firefox browser, suddenly taking a large market share from Microsoft’s Internet Explorer.

Mozilla and Google have a lot in common with each other. Both rose to mass popularity because of word-of-mouth testimonials from very satisfied users. The only comparable mass-migration in Internet history was the meteoric rise of Google itself over the past four years. Both identify Microsoft as their main competitor and both have drawn an enormous amount of attention from Microsoft.

Mozilla and Google also have similar cultures of young, smart engineers who feel they are different from the common business mold. Both groups are committed to the creation of “disruptive technologies”, or technologies that make products which change the ways people use the Internet. Lastly, both Google and Mozilla employees believe their work will make the web a better place. While it is only safe to say a partnership between the two is a likely development, the alliance between the two firms is obvious.