Can Firefox Disrupt the Duopoly with their Ad-free Internet?

This is kind of a big deal.

Firefox, the open-source browser from the folks at Mozilla who say “the online advertising system is broken,” is proposing an ad-free internet.

“Users are now being invited to a free trial of the Firefox Ad-free Internet, which is currently in development, and will cost $4.99 per month once the trial ends,” writes Monojoy Bhattacharjee in Whats New In Publishing

“No other browser out there is taking a step to really push user privacy as a differentiating feature,” said  Vesta Zare, a senior product manager at Firefox.

According to Bhattacharjee, Mozilla is working with news subscription start-up Scroll that offers ad-free versions of news sites including The Atlantic, USA Today, Vox, Slate and others. Publishers earn revenue from the subscriptions, rather than the ad sales, and consumers get to engage without distraction.

If the model seems slightly familiar, it’s probably because Apple News+ is similar. And publisher reaction to that has been tepid, even chilly, so far. Still, this idea intrigues. Yet the draw here is not so much the subscription model of consuming news, but the fact that customers can do so sans ads.

“For publishers, we believe that these same measures will help shift long-term ecosystem incentives which are currently stripping value from publishers and fueling rampant ad fraud,” said Firefox’s product lead Peter Dolanjski.

It’s an interesting leap for Mozilla too, a definitive move designed to loosen the grip of the digital ad duopoly.

“The upcoming launch of Firefox Ad-free Internet comes at a time when Mozilla is trying to diversify itself away from its primary revenue source, Google,” says Bhattacharjee. “The lion’s share of Mozilla’s revenue comes from its arrangement with Google to make it Firefox’s default search engine.”

It’s a fascinating development in an industry that needs innovative new models to solve some very real and rampant problems.

Five bucks a month? I’m in.