Flock, the self-described "social web browser," is responding to the launch of RockMelt with the release of Flock 3.5, which boasts greater speed and added functionality.
The browser touts social integration, primarily through a sidebar that lets users update their Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn statuses. It also has a multitude of link-sharing features, the ability to group friends across multiple services and a "Social Search" feature that displays what a user's friends are saying about a specific query.
The major change from version 3.0 to 3.5 though is that Flock is now based off of Chromium 7, an upgrade from Flock 3.0's Chromium 5 roots. Flock's Mac version is also now based on Chromium; the previous version ran off of Gecko.
In addition to the version 3.5 release, Flock also announced that it now has 9.5 million users based on installs.
Flock vs. RockMelt
Flock, first released in 2005, has been known for its social networking elements. For years, the browser was based off of the Gecko rendering engine, the same one used in Firefox. In June though, the company abandoned Gecko in favor of Google's open source Chromium engine in an attempt to completely reinvent itself.
The social browser space gained renewed attention when RockMelt made its debut earlier this month. Based on the premise that current browsers are designed for an antiquated web and that the modern browser needs to live in the cloud, the Chromium-based browser was able gain a lot of traction for its limited beta launch. It also doesn't hurt that one of its financial backers is Marc Andreessen, the founder of Netscape.
Flock is clearly aware of the threat that RockMelt poses to its browser and to its business. In fact, it's so acutely aware of RockMelt that it created a 24 point comparison chart where it slams its upstart competitor for being cumbersome and new to the social browser game.
Here are just a few of Flock's counterpoints to RockMelt:
- "We think RockMelt will be difficult for average users to use, given the configuration and clicking required. Three years of user testing and input has told us that they don't want to go to all this work in their social browser and they don't want to open up multiple windows to see what's going on. They want to see what's important to them in a glance."
- "RockMelt's search experience is cumbersome and it doesn't give you all the goodness of Google. RockMelt has added a Firefox era-like features of two search boxes — you put something in search box, a panel pops up that just gives you Google results in a panel without taking you to Google. This introduces a pop up window on top of Google and duplicates functionality already available from Google."
- "Sharing is multi-click and cumbersome. You have to click the Share button — pick what you want from a drop down box. Several clicks are involved — up to three clicks."
Today's release makes it clear that Flock isn't about to roll over and play dead to the competition presented by RockMelt. This is just the opening salvo of the social browser wars.
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