Mozilla partners with eBay, creates auction browser

Mozilla launched a version of its Firefox browser last week customized for eBay bidders and sellers in the U.K., France and Germany. A version for Australian eBay users, however, is not yet available.

A single-file build of Firefox 2.0 paired with the Firefox Companion for eBay extension was unveiled Tuesday, as was a separate extension -- the term Mozilla uses for browser plug-ins -- that can be added to copies of Firefox running on Windows, Mac OS X and Linux.

The Companion adds a sidebar display to Firefox that offers eBay-specific search, bidding tools, status alerts, an auction monitor that can be used by both sellers and buyers, and a page view counter that tallies visits to an auction. The extension also supports eBay's Account Guard, an anti-spoofing feature that ensures users that they're on the legitimate eBay site.

EBay and Mozilla did not disclose terms of the deal. "We don't disclose the terms of our collaboration with our partners," a Mozilla spokeswoman said in an e-mail, "but what we can tell you is that we are pursuing a collaboration that is focused on delivering an improved online auction experience for our communities of users." An eBay spokesman also would not spell out the arrangements. The two companies first announced in March that they would work together to integrate auction tools with Firefox.

The financial link could be important to Mozilla, which receives the bulk of its income from one source: a partnership with Google Inc. In return for making that search engine the browser's default and its search site the browser's default home page, Firefox is paid millions annually. A similar deal with eBay could create a second major revenue stream for Mozilla.

The customized Firefox 2.0 as well as the Companion extension can be downloaded for English speakers. French and German versions are also available.

EBay declined to provide information on either a timetable for releasing a U.S. or Australian version of the Firefox auction add-on with Mozilla, or even if it was working on the extension.

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