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Rockmelt, Anyone?

In November, Rockmelt burst onto the scene as the new (and latest) social browser. It helped the start-up is financially backed by Marc Andreessen, and it’s a browser with a strong dose of Facebook.

Since Rockmelt made its debut, it has disappeared from the scene. There’s no chatter about Rockmelt, no sign it is gaining market share, and no one in my social-happy circles seem to be using it. In other words, Rockmelt seems to have melted as opposed to rocketed.

So what happened? Why has Rockmelt fizzled after such a strong kick-off?

I think part of it is Rockmelt’s heavy focus on Facebook, making it a Facebook browser as opposed to a social browser. It may also be due to the reality the browser market is extremely competitive with Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome and Safari dominating the scene. This makes it difficult to establish a foothold unless a new browser is fantastic or launched by a strong player such as Google.

Perhaps the biggest problem with Rockmelt is it wasn’t launched by Facebook. So while it’s a Facebook-dominated browser, it’s not part of Facebook. My sense is Rockmelt would be a much bigger success if was the much rumored F-browser as opposed to a plucky start-up that was seemingly created to be acquired by Facebook.

If Rockmelt was the F-browser, it would have the backing and clout of Facebook and, as a result, would have an easier time convincing Facebook user to adopt it. It would probably have tighter integration with Facebook and be closer aligned with with Facebook’s new features.

Instead, Rockmelt sits in an awkward place. It’s trying to be a social browser but it’s a difficult place to establish a foothold. For people who remember Flock (aka the original social browser), it’s not clear whether people are looking for a browser that embraces social media.

At the same time, Rockmelt’s biggest obstacle may be people are happy with the other browser choices. It may be Rockmelt was a victim of bad timing in that the new kid on the block status was claimed by Chrome, leaving Rockmelt on the outside looking in.

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  • http://gregorylam.ca Gregory Lam

    I think it’s just the sheer competitiveness in the browser market has become. Flock, a similar social media-focused browser based on Firefox, has the same issues gaining traction.

    And with both Firefox and Chrome having healthy selection of social media addons (i.e. Firefox’s F1), it’s an even tougher sell.

    • http://www.markevanstech.com Mark Evans

      Gregory,

      Competition is fierce, which makes Chrome’s traction that much more impressive. Thanks for the comment! Mark

  • http://www.lifeintheknife.com Shane

    This makes for a great case study in product orientation vs. marketing orientation. In a nut shell, the arguable need for social browsing was already met by the big browser makers Google, Firefox, etc. It appears that Rocket Browser came in with the attitude that if we build it they will come, which is a really out-dated way of doing business.

    Take care,
    Shane

  • http://twitter.com/NonTechieTalk Non-techie Talk

    There’s as much guarantee that Facebook users would have embraced Rockmelt if it was made by Facebook as there was that they’d embrace Facebook’s email service…which is not very much, and rightly so…Facebook is not a technology company that inspires (FB chat is a great example of their poor coding chops).

    http://nontechietalk.blogspot.com