RockMelt Launches A Social Web Browser

November 7, 2010

8:28 pm

Looking to take advantage of everyone’s hyper connectivity online, San Francisco-based RockMelt rolled out today to offer a new Web browser directly connected to a Facebook account. RockMelt is backed by serial entrepreneur and Netscape founder Marc Andreessen. RockMelt is based off the open source platform Chromium, which is the same project that Google’s Chrome browser is based off of. So what’s so different about it verses Chrome, Firefox or other browsers? RockMelt looks to connect you to your friends while browsing the Web. Its persistent chat and sharing features make it very easy to turn your browsing experience into a more social one.

RockMelt Overview

RockMelt Overview

The browser looks a lot like Chrome, but the side bars allow you to pop chat windows and share your Web experiences directly with your friends. In testing RockMelt, I had to sign in to connect to my Facebook account and I also signed into Twitter, which pulled my Twitter feed into a new pane in the browser. The browser also allows you to add any feed, so I pulled in the Tech Cocktail feed which is rendered in a separate feed reader pane.

RockMelt is a new way to connect directly with friends from your browser. Personally, I don’t know if I necessarily need another way to connect directly to Facebook and my friends but I am willing to give the browser a shot to see if there is something compelling that makes it a necessity. I also feel that this functionality may be more interesting to an older demographic than the younger ones that are currently using their mobile phones and other devices to connect. RockMelt reminds me of Flock, a social browser built on the Firefox framework that I covered when it launched back in 2005. So it’s intriguing to find RockMelt taking a crack at a social browser five years later, and important to recall that neither Facebook nor Twitter were available in 2005 the way they are today. So the timing for a social browser may be more ideal now than then. But would it be more strategic to take a crack at a social mobile browser for the iPhone and iPad with all the similar social and sharing hooks? We’ll see. Also I am not sold on the idea that you have to log into Facebook to use the browser. But if it does take off, RockMelt could be positioned nicely to fit into Facebook’s strategy if getting into the browser war is something they are interested in doing through an acquisition.

RockMelt is in closed beta, so if you have not received a beta account yet, check out the RockMelt demo video (below).

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Frank Gruber is the cofounder, CEO and Executive Editor of Tech.Co (formerly Tech Cocktail). He is the author of the book, Startup Mixology, Tech Cocktail’s Guide to Building, Growing, and Celebrating Startup Success. He is also a startup advisor and investor to startups.

Find Frank Gruber online and follow him on Twitter at @FrankGruber.

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