RockMelt: Dumb or Stupid? You Decide

RockMelt: Dumb or Stupid? You Decide

Summary: We need yet another Web browser like we need a hole in the head.


Just to get RockMelt's beta requires granting it Facebook account access.

By my count, there are three really important Web browsers today: Chrome, Firefox, and Internet Explorer. There are also two others that are good enough, Opera and Safari, that they're worth considering. So, really why the heck should I think that there's room for yet another Web browser, the much ballyhooed RockMelt?

Seriously, as the guy who first reported on the Web for a popular publication back in 1993, I've seen more Web browsers than I can recall, and I really don't see a lot of reason for yet another one. Sure, there was a time when we really needed a new Web browser to free us from the horror that was, and is, IE 6, but that was in 2004, and Firefox unlocked us from IE 6. Today, we already have many excellent Web browser choices. So, really, what's the point of another one?

The logic behind RockMelt is that you can take the open-source Chromium Web browser code, which powers Chrome, and pair it up with Facebook, Twitter, and RSS integration to produce a super social-network savvy Web browser. I'd be a lot more impressed by the potential of this idea if it wasn't that it's already been tried in Flock.

Technically, I wouldn't call Flock, which is also built on top of Chromium and also works hand-in-glove with Facebook and Twitter, a failure. In fact, I rather like it. The bottom line though is that after years of being on the market, according to Net Applications' NetMarkets statistics for October 2010 Flock has a pathetic 0.05% of the Web browser market.

So why I, or anyone else, think that RockMelt will do better? Yes, it has Marc Andreessen, the co-creator of Mosaic, the first popular graphical Web browser, and founder of Netscape behind it, but it's been a long, long time since Andreessen hit a home-run. As a technical innovator these days, Andreessen is a fine venture-capitalist.

Since Andreessen is also on Facebook's board of directors and was an early investor in Twitter we can also safely presume that RockMelt will work well with both social networks. But, is having a Web browser that integrates well with Facebook and Twitter really that big a deal?

I don't think so. First, I'm not crazy about how social networks, particularly Facebook, invade privacy. Just to get on the beta list, I had to give permission to Rockport to access my public Facebook account information, the ability to send me e-mail, and--this is the one that really bugs me--the right to post messages, images and video to my Facebook wall. I don't like giving any Facebook program this much power, never-mind just a tricked-out Web browser.

Second, we already know from Flock that there's the basic idea isn't very attractive. Finally, I'd rather use a general purpose Web-browser for all sites than have to use two: one that's customized for Facebook and Twitter and another for everything else.

At the end of the day, I see RockMelt as a Web browser answer for a problem that doesn't really exist. If social networks are really important to you, chances are you're already using a free client like TweetDeck or Gwibber. If they're just part of what you do on the Web, then you visit them with your favorite Web-browser. Sorry, I don't see RockMelt fitting in anywhere except down with Flock in the also-ran deeps of Web browser listings.

Topics: Browser, Social Enterprise

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  • RE: RockMelt: Dumb or Stupid? You Decide

    It'd be really interesting if you set up a poll with the two answers being Dumb or Stupid. As you stated, this is exactly like Flock. Lawsuits coming in the near future?
    Loverock Davidson
  • Huh?

    The fandroids think it's great to be able to choose from eleventy hundred Android phones. Why isn't it great to be able to choose from eleventy hundred browsers?
    Personally, I think that browsers--or smartphones--that are "tied" to a particular function aren't a good idea. Android, for example, is designed to grease the pipes into Googleland and Google apps. Windows Phone is designed with a "social" slant. Why not have a general purpose phone that you customize the way you want by adding apps?
    • RE: RockMelt: Dumb or Stupid? You Decide


      It is great to choose from eleventy hundred browsers.
      I kind of like the "OffByOne" browser, myself.
  • RE: RockMelt: Dumb or Stupid? You Decide

    The problem has to do with the premise of your article, which is "Today, we already have many excellent Web browser choices."

    We don't.

    IE is too slow and limited in terms of working options, which is a Microsoft trademark. If you've used Google Chrome, you can't even go back to the clunkiness of IE. Chrome has problems of its own, including common bugs and a lack of support for a working Google toolbar and its functions. Firefox uses too much memory uncontrollably. I've tried the others and gave up.

    Bottom line is that a better browser would be welcome, since none of the current choices is sufficient.

    You should change the title of your article to "This article: Dumb or Stupid?? I?d vote all of the above.
    • RE: RockMelt: Dumb or Stupid? You Decide

      @patrick_omalley IE 8 and 9 are actually decent, and Firefox is getting better at memory management, albeit more slowly than anyone would like, and I'll take Chrome over any of them. Can they all be improved on? You betcha. Is a Chromium-based Web-browser that's customized for social network the answer? Nope. Flock wasn't and RockMelt won't be either.

      • RockMelt and Flock aren't the answer for US

        But I bet it's the answer for SOMEBODY.
        Michael Alan Goff
        • Rockmelt just isn't the right avenue for my 'MS' disabled self!

          Not for ME, OK??
          Danny Krieg Sr
      • RE: RockMelt: Dumb or Stupid? You Decide


        True - it will be the answer for .05% of the market - which is what the article states.
      • .05% of the market

        Well, really, this one might gain more traction because of the way it is being marketed. It is being called "the facebook browser". There are 500,000,000 facebook users. If it can get 1/10 of the facebook users to download it, that's something great.

        Hell, if it can get 1/100, I would still consider it to be a veritable success.
        Michael Alan Goff
    • RE: RockMelt: Dumb or Stupid? You Decide

      Why the heck would you want a toolbar on Chrome if everything that the toolbar is porting you is perferctly do-able on Chrome itself?
      Common bugs? I use every day Chrome with no less than 60 tabs usually splitted in 3 or more instances. Often I browse a couple sites bad-coded that makes the processor get the sky. Enough killing them and the calm is back.
      You should REALLY use Chrome intensively and then post.
      • RE: RockMelt: Dumb or Stupid? You Decide


        I always read these posts and wonder... Why do you have 60 tabs open? I can't think of 60 websites I visit on a regular basis to have them open at the same time. I typically have a primary tab and if there is something linked I'll open that in a new tab, which makes IE8/9 ideal.

        I was using Chrome until IE9 beta was released and now I typically use IE9 at home, Chrome on my laptop and office PC. I have never seen anyone use a browser with more than 10 tabs opened at once and usually people who do can't keep track of what's open where. In fact, with 60 tabs split between 3 browser windows how do you find what you're looking for? Is it to make you look ultra busy but in actuality your time is spent scanning for the tab you actually need?

        Not a flame, I just can't fathom needing that many tabs open. Perhaps you could enlighten me.
      • RE: RockMelt: Dumb or Stupid? You Decide


        There are a lot of linear thinking people, and for them having only a couple browser windows open at a time makes sense. I am more like @nanomartin, I usually have 4 or 5 browsers going with 10-15 tabs per open.

        Examples: I have FB, gmail, some poety sites, and 3 projects I am researching. So for each project I have a handful of related sites open. Plus a few zdnet pages as well. It doesn't take long to have 50 or 60 total tabs.

        Then again I usually have 20+ applications running at a time and wonder how anyone can get anything done if they only have 1 open at a time.
      • Too many tabs???

        Yes, I too keep lots of browsers open with many tabs. I multitask and on each thing I'm thinking about, I may branch-off into multiple areas. When I'm learning about something, I often come across things that touch other problems I'm working-on, so I'll open them too. My "favorites" are like a filesystem. My filesystem is like a "mindmap." It drives linear-thinkers crazy, but it works well for some of us.
      • RE: RockMelt: Dumb or Stupid? You Decide

        @Brett.Blatchley hehe... I'm the same - though I tend to avoid saying the actual number of tabs I have open - since you always get people that think everyone should use the computer *their* way and ask "why so many!??? I don't, so why would anyone else??!" ;)

        But for eg. I've currently got about 60 tickets to work through in trac, and I've usually got 5 different people on my back about 2 or 3 of those each... and need to research the issues of each ticket and find solutions.

        So each ticket I'm currently working on has it's own tab/window and group of tabs for research and I switch between them constantly depending on who I'm talking to and which priorities have just changed ... and then there's the non-work related tabs and windows ;)

        But what I've found is that, for my usage, Chrome uses too much memory, runs slower than firefox (at that number of tabs), and tends to crash under the load (and just disappear) and I lose it all - ie. it doesn't bring back my last session.

        My PC generally doesn't get rebooted for 2 months or so, during which I'm researching a lot of projects, working on multiple jobs and I can regularly get up to 4 or 5 browser windows with 30+ tabs in each.

        I don't expect other people to work the way I do, but it works for me, so I use the browser that works the best for me... And with all the webdev I do, I just can't get by without my favourite Firefox extensions... I know, other browsers have extensions too, but believe me, I've tried them - many times... they just don't cut it, or integrate as well.

        I've been using Chrome since 2008 (on multiple computers)... liked it initially, I think it's great for the general user that doesn't open too many pages or want too many options... but I've found the more I use it, the more I dislike it.

        I still have Opera, MSIE6 - 9, Chrome and Safari on my PC (need to check my pages in all of them - the joy of web standards ;) )... but the more I use them all, the more I prefer Firefox - but then I also like to customise every aspect of my PC.

        Different browsers for different people, I guess ;) I don't think there really is one browser that's best for everyone... at least not yet ;)
  • RE: RockMelt: Dumb or Stupid? You Decide

    I have my doubts.
    Personally - I like ie9. For me even the beta is outstanding.
    Now I asked my two teenagers...
    - they thought RM is a great idea!
    - it gives them one click access to their social crowd even while browsing, etc......

    Well we will have to see.
    I suspect this is the first of many "social" revamps of current fuctionality.

  • RE: RockMelt: Dumb or Stupid? You Decide

    Flock is not that original either. There was a powwow browser in the mid to late 90's that was based on browsing together with others. I may have the name wrong but I am certain that one existed.
    General Chat
  • Its just Chrome with extensions for FB, Yelp and Twitter

    Very stupid
  • RE: RockMelt: Dumb or Stupid? You Decide

    You're right. It tries to solve a problem that doesn't exist. Bad idea.
    • RE: RockMelt: Dumb or Stupid? You Decide

      Facebook also solved a problem that didn't exist.
    • Yet....

      Maybe the problem doesn't exist YET!

      We don't know where this will go. But I've got a house full of teens and all their posse and this is the sort of thing that they would love.

      I like the point goff256 made about getting even a small slice of the Facebook crowd. Maybe something like RockMelt will form the basis of a "New Thing" for agregatting social networking, like RSS has done for newsfeeds.

      Yes, this has been tried before, but who knows? Maybe NOW is the time. I've had a number of very good ideas that could have been very successful (but they weren't at the time when I tried them), then years later: BANG! The idea, the resources, the timing all came together.

      I think that "poo-pooing" things like this is a little like saying that "everything that's worth inventing has already been invented." (HA! Give that man a laser-pointer!)