RockMelt: the Next Netscape? (And Do They Want to Be?)
Remember Netscape? Come on, you know you do. If you were online before 2000, you probably remember the erstwhile most-popular web browser, the predecessor of Internet Explorer, and ancestor of Firefox. The original Internet success story, Netscape went public before making a profit, then doubled its revenues every quarter in 1995. In the mid-90s, they had 90% of the browser market—but by the end of 2006, less than 1% of Internet users were still on Netscape. The following year, Netscape released its final version.
Now that we’ve had our history lesson for the day, let’s get up to speed. Netscape founder Marc Andreessen has finally anointed a successor to Netscape—and it ain’t Firefox. Although FF is the child of Netscape’s open-source Mozilla initiative, it’s another, as-yet-unreleased browser that has Andreessen’s attention these days: RockMelt.
Andreessen has worked with RockMelt’s co-founders before. Tim Howes worked at Netscape, and both Howes and Eric Vishria were executives at Andreessen’s Opsware (now sold to HP). The project is so early in development that no one is talking about it (and robots.txt blocks all user-agents from their site).
The policy says that a person could use a Facebook ID to log into RockMelt, suggesting that the browser may be tailored to display Facebook updates and other features as users browse the Web. Another browser, Flock, based on Firefox, already incorporates feeds from social networking sites.
The article also notes that Google Chrome has failed to gain much of a foothold in the browser market so far, despite Google’s prominent positioning efforts. Other startups without Google’s face time could face even greater barriers to entry—but integrating with FB could be a good way to gain some of that exposure.
What do you think? What kind of implementation would you expect for a browser integrated with Facebook? Would you be interested in that? Will Andreessen’s endorsement be enough to get RockMelt more than hype?