It was a small gesture but it spoke volumes: At the Google IO developer conference, while expounding on the virtues and possibilities of HTML 5, Google engineering VP and head of developer evangelism Vic Gundotra thanked the Mozilla community for advancing the state of browser technology.Jay Sullivan, VP of mobile at Mozilla, accepted Gundotra's expression of appreciation on behalf of the Mozilla community, offering reassurance to those concerned that Google's entry into the browser market might strain the relationship between Mozilla and Google. "Browser competition is heating up and that's no secret to anyone here," said Sullivan, acknowledging the elephant in the room. But he insisted that competition was good for the market, noting that consumers suffered during the years when Microsoft Internet Explorer dominated the browser market.
"We see what happens when there isn't any competition in the market," he said.
Google and Mozilla share three goals, he said: supporting the Web as a platform, advancing Web technology, and avoiding competing standards.
It was a touching BFF -- best friends forever -- moment.
Yet there's more to it than that. The enemy-of-my-enemy-is-my-friend aspect of the Google-Mozilla relationship remains strong. Google and Mozilla stand together against Microsoft and proprietary technology. As long as Chrome and Firefox gain market share at the expense of Microsoft Internet Explorer, expect the smiles to go unquestioned.
If Chrome begins to take market share from Firefox, or if Google fails to renew its payment agreement with Mozilla for access to the Firefox search box, expect a less cordial stance.