Deep in the Mozilla Labs (aka the place where cool stuff is developed for Firefox), they’re playing around with the idea (codenamed “The Coop”) of adding social networking tools to the browser. It’s based on the idea that sharing photos, songs, Web sites is a pillar of what many people do online so why not make it an integral part of the browser.
To some such as Michael Arrington, Firefox move into social networking is a bad sign for Flock, which bills itself as “the social web browser”. But perhaps the real story is how Firefox, Flock, Opera and even Microsoft continue to evolve and improve the browser with new bells and whistles. Can you imagine a Web with a dominant player content to maintain the status quo with no rivals nipping at its heels?
Given how the browser is becoming more important than the OS we should be thankful Firefox, Opera, Flock and other upstarts are intent on battling the Goliath (aka IE). (Take a look at the Flock blog for some of the cool things that have been happening.) In many respects, the same kind of activity is happening in the search space where new players such as Zillow and Wikia are being funded to compete Google or carve out of a particular market vertical.
Update: CenterNetworks has some thoughts about the risks involved building on someone else’s technology – looking at how Flock is vulnerable because it uses Mozilla.