It appears Firefox is going to have what are, for now, non-intrusive ads that fill up your "frequently visited" tabs on an empty page with some adverts until you visit enough sites, as if those were helpful suggestions.

There's a painful irony in reading this shortly after DaringFireball linked to a post from a former RealNetworks employee explaining how adware was forcefully driving RealNetworks' business:

My manager then said, “More than half the company would have to lose their job in order for us to stop these tactics … so are you volunteering to be one of them?”

That was the day I learned I’d rather lose respectfully than win without honor. Once people become wary of your products or your business ethics, it’s game over. You can’t sustain for long, because you won’t keep your customers much longer.

I understand making money from having Google as your default search engine.  That's an easy win-win.  Google seems to offer the best (and if not the best, no worse than top two, and you'll have to pick who the other is) search engine, folks enjoy the simplicity of a search box/unified search bar, and you might as well pocket the cash for giving the bar to them.

But don't try to link this new ad grab to the search bar, as if Google was going to stop paying, which the originally linked news item about Firefox's new ads does:

Mozilla is heavily reliant on income from search royalties from Google, and has been for some time, so this would seem to be an exploration of other financial options – with possibly more alternative revenue streams to come?

That stream simply isn't drying up.  How much do you think Bing would pay to be on Firefox?  Everything I can tell from the rumors surrounding Microsoft now that they have a new CEO suggests that they're going to be less Windows-first-and-Windows-only than they have been in the past.  And it's not like Bing was a stranger to search bars before now either.

There's plenty of revenue to keep Mozilla afloat without becoming the next RealNetworks, and only so many places where you can put ads without becoming intrusive.  And hopefully only so many times you can insert ads before someone starts building Firefox without them.  See Banshee, the crossplatform iTunes replacement -- there's been a small tempest about how its affiliate fees for music purchased through its UI at Amazon get rerouted on different Linux distros.  It's not that hard to "re-monetize" software.

We've been happy to give Firefox a few dollars to provide us with better functions. If you want more cash, innovate with new functions, dang it.  Or you might be surprised how quickly your users' goodwill dries up when you start demanding more tribute.

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