Mozilla's Firefox is getting promoted on one of the world's most popular Web pages, Google's Google.com home page, as the open-source browser continues its David-vs.-Goliath battle against Microsoft's Internet Explorer.
The Firefox promotion is being billed by some bloggers as the first time Google has hawked a third-party product on its famously minimalistic home page, but that claim isn't completely accurate, according to a Google spokeswoman.
"We have promoted several Google products that were bundled in some way with third-party products or content such as the Google Pack and Google Video content from the NBA and CBS," she said via e-mail.
Google Pack is a free, downloadable software suite that Google distributes and that includes products from Google and other vendors, including Adobe Systems, Mozilla and Symantec. Google Video is the company's video search service, which features content obtained via special arrangements with third-party producers and broadcasters.
This promotion is for Firefox with the Google Toolbar, and Google's motivation is that Firefox features such as tabbed browsing and security capabilities "help provide our users with a great search experience," she said.
At press time, around 2:30 p.m. eastern time, the Firefox ad apparently had stopped appearing, according to an informal survey of users located in different parts of the U.S.
The promotion is an extension of the referrals program for Firefox that Google launched through its AdSense advertising platform last year, the spokeswoman said.
AdSense is a program for Web site publishers interested in carrying ads sold by Google. Its referral feature lets publishers get cash rewards by directing Web site visitors to products.
The Google spokeswoman didn't immediately reply to an e-mail asking how long the promotion is scheduled to run and whether it's being targeted to all Google.com visitors.
The ad appears below the Google.com search box with the text "Firefox with Google Toolbar: tabbed browsing, safer surfing" and a snapshot of the Google Toolbar in Firefox.