The beta version of the highly anticipated new web browser, Rockmelt, was made available yesterday to a limited audience; but bugs in the system are already interrupting the intended user experience.
The original intent is for a user to always have immediate access to their Facebook and Twitter friends and followers, as well as any other favorite sites, news feeds that they frequent often or password protected accounts. Icons for these favorite sites and people are aggregated into hubs called “Edges,” where RockMelt will alert users when a new story comes out, a friend posts new pictures, or when a new video is available. The Edges are always there as a column on the right and left hand border no matter what site the user is viewing and they only disappear if a user is viewing the web in Full screen mode.
Unfortunately, a load-related bug, is keeping the social network feeds from loading on the right edge of the browser for many early adopters, according to reports on Rockmelt’s Twitter feed and on the company blog. With this feature impaired, the purpose of using Rockmelt is completely defeated since uninhibited access to social media is the browser’s main draw. If they can’t fix this problem soon it could potentially threaten the company’s viability.
But if they do get it working correctly, Rockmelt, which is financially backed by Netscape-founder-turned-venture-capitalist Marc Andreessen, could mark a new beginning to how people interface with the Internet and one another. It also could mean the end of the line for social content aggregators like Tweetdeck and Hootsuite.
We think one of Rockmelt’s best features is the one that gives users the ability to save the browser settings to the cloud so that they can log onto the browser from any computer and see their custom interface with bookmarks, contacts and preferences exactly the way they left it when they last logged out.
Social media is the main advantage for those interested in using Rockmelt; but its not the only one. Searching should be faster, the company claims on its blog. Because Rockmelt is built on top of Chromium, the open source browser created by Google, users will notice a couple of differences when searching Google on Rockmelt compared to searching Google on competitor’s browsers. For example, you can flip through Google search results like a magazine thanks to a separate, narrower pane drops down with your search results, and the center window displays each URL as you click on the links from your results. This feature will prevent users from clicking back and forth between search results pages and URLs, which will result in quicker searching.
Rockmelt isn’t the first to create a social web browser. Flock introduced their browser in 2007 using the Mozilla Firefox platform, but recently redesigned the browser using Chromium in June. Flock also streams updates and comments on a sidebar and it groups friends and related sites together by any area of interest including, work, entertainment news, sports, etc.
Flock was selected by TechCrunch as one of the 40 hottest and most influential startups in 2007, but according to Netmarketshare.com today it only has a 0.05% share of the Web browser market; compared to Microsoft Explorer at 59%, Firefox at 23%, and even Netscape at 0.63%. It is unclear when Rockmelt will be available for anyone to download. The company did not respond to our inquiries before press time. But, if Flock’s popularity is any clue to what people want or don’t want then there is surely doubt as to whether Rockmelt will take off in the mainstream.
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