Instant Review of RockMelt

As someone who likes to, in a mixed-metaphor kind of way, kick the tires of shiny new things, when I read about the new web browser, Rockmelt, I downloaded it (thanks to a Facebook friend who was notified by RockMelt that I’d like an invitation — in RockMelt’s version of exclusivity marketing).

Here are some quick thoughts.

1. It’s nice, but I think if Marc Andreessen wasn’t involved, this would not be causing a blip of interest, even among hardcore geeks.

2. If Marc Andreessen wasn’t on the board of Facebook, we’d be wondering why anyone would do something that Google or Facebook could easily do themselves. (It may just be me, but RockMelt seems like a “build to sell to Facebook” concept.)

3. Don’t the people who might use RockMelt already have a 3rd-party social media app, client or service like Seesmic, Hootsuite, etc., with which they manage their social flow?

4. If you are easily distracted, do not download or use it. It’s entire purpose for being seems focused on distracting you from whatever it is you are supposed to be doing.

Glitch fix:

When I downloaded and launched it, the “edge” panels did not appear (which are the only things that make if different from Google Chrome). I had to quit the browser and relaunch it a couple of times before they would appear.

A sidenote observation:

The positioning quote of “why a browser, now” is this one from Mark Andresseen in the NYTimes story linked to above: “Had we known about Facebook and Twitter and Google back in ’92 or ’93, we would have built them into the browser…This is an opportunity to go back and do it right.”

To which, after using it, I would respond, “Are you sure you wouldn’t have just skipped the whole browser thing and gone straight to apps?”

Something I like:

The way they’ve used a photo of the development team to stress the “people” part of the product. While it looks a little “stock photo”-ish, it’s a great portrait and a nice touch.

  • Thanks for validating my invite. After I downloaded and logged in my FB account, the browser offered some other FB friends for me to validate. nnI find it ever so busy that I almost can’t read the web pages. I wish it had a fold out, fold in kind of button so the social features would only pop out when I needed them (ie wanted to share a link) or had a free moment and wanted to check on all the services at once.nnIs there some sort of trend to be noted about new dashboard-like interfaces bringing together/wrangling all your social networking services etc? Windows Phone 7, now Rockmelt?

  • Grey

    Totally agree about the Andreessen bit (see Flock). Do you feel like this is a solution looking for a problem?

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  • Thanks for the invite!nnI have many of same initial thoughts. I don’t have facebook and twitter browser extensions installed in my current browser for a reason. I do wonder if this will appeal to folks who want social media integration, but don’t want to install third party extensions. (e.g. the non-hardcore geeks.)nnI imagine the takeaway if this browser is moderately successful is that the browser then acts as a “third party candidate” in that larger players will likely be influenced by what has connected well with the people.nnFor instance, one slick feature I hope to see adopted elsewhere is how RockMelt implements social into search. If you type in your friends name in the web address field, you can wall or message them. Pretty slick.

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  • Hadn’t noticed that feature. Yes, it’s slick for people like you and me, but it’s also a bit over whelming.

  • It does have a feeling of being “features” rather than being a product. And I have often seen “solutions looking for a problem” find one, so I won’t complain if other people are using their money to, basically, do basic research, instead of product development. Twitter is the best example I know of something that solved a problem that no one knew existed (or, could articulate as “a problem”)

  • I have to figure that, given how things work now, no way were all those people in the same room. Agree with your insights on trying to integrate social media into a browser now… like closing the barn door after the cow is already on the loose.

  • Grey

    Interesting point about Twitter. In your mind does it make a difference that microblogging basically didn’t exist before Twitter, so there was a much bigger opportunity to ‘create’ a market?

  • The creators of Twitter had no idea they were creating a “microblogging” platform. (And, frankly, I’d quibble with your theory that it is today — or that the reason it’s successful is that reason.) But a bigger point is this: Rarely does a technology find ultimate success in the way its creators/developers originally envisioned. In his new book, What Technology Wants, Kevin Kelly lists several technologies, from the automobile, laser, telephone, computer and internet that were touted by their inventors as being something that would make use laugh today. There is a “second order effect” that often makes the long-term impact of a technology impossible to forecast until enough people have access to the technology and start using it in ways the creator often never considered. Twitters is, today, as much a creation of the users as it is of the creators. Hashtags, the use of “@” and the word “tweets” are just some of the user-generated product development.