Is This the Web Browser Experience People Want?
Today, nearly everybody in the tech community is talking about a new web browser called RockMelt, just introduced over the weekend. The browser promises to make it "easy for you to do the things you do every single day on the web."
This means sharing, keeping up with friends, staying up to date on news and information, and of course search. The browser is built on Chromium, the open source project behind Google’s Chrome.
"Your friends are important to you, so we built them in," writes the RockMelt Team. "Now you’re able to chat, share that piano-playing-cat video everyone’s going to love, or just see what your friends are up to, regardless of what site you’re on. Your favorite sites are important to you, so we built them in too. Now you can access them from anywhere, without leaving the page you’re on. And RockMelt will tell you when something new happens."
"Share or tweet links often?" the team continues. "Yeah, us too. No more wading through each site’s goofy share widget or copy-pasting URLs. We built sharing directly into the browser, right next to the URL bar. Like a site or story? Click “Share” and BAM – link shared. You can use it on any site to post to Facebook or tweet about it on Twitter. It’s just one click away. That easy."
RockMelt isn’t the first browser to place this kind of emphasis on social and sharing. This is the whole angle of Flock, which has been around for quite some time. In fact, back in the summer, Flock announced a redesign of its browser, which was originally based on Firefox, to a new Chromium-based version.
Right now, people can sign up for early access to RockMelt, but while it’s been two years in the making, the team says to expect some bugs because the browser is still a "baby".
While it’s hard to say if RockMelt will find mainstream adoption in an increasingly crowded web browser space with continuous enhancements among offerings from the big names like Google, Microsoft, and Apple and other established browsers like Firefox and Opera, the concepts behind RockMelt will be attractive to web users.
I’d expect to see more of these kinds of functionalities from the other existing browsers, particularly Chrome, given that not only is it also built on Chromium, but Google has said repeatedly that it will continue to build "social layers" upon its existing products. The browser seems like an obvious place to build such a layer.
There are plenty of add-ons out there for other browsers that can add these kinds of features, but RockMelt appears to just be reducing the friction between users and this kind of web experience.
Content providers should only benefit from the kinds of sharing features RockMelt promises. Regardless of what sharing buttons or widgets they offer on their own content, users will always have the option to share with their own networks of friends right at their fingertips.
Marc Andreessen, who started Netscape, is backing RockMelt, which was developed by Tim Howes and Eric Vishria.