August 3, 2006 10:29 AM PDT

Flock's 'social browser' set to fly

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Start-up Flock plans to release this fall version 1.0 of its namesake browser, which intermingles online socializing and Web surfing.

Features in Flock, which is built on top of Firefox software, focus on sharing and communication, a common theme of so-called Web 2.0 services. The browser is being designed to integrate closely with online Web services, like Flickr and Delicious.

The free browser has a photo bar that runs across the top. When friends' photo Web sites are updated, the user can click and view pictures via a photo-sharing service. People can also drag and drop images onto the display bar.

Flock with photo bar

Mountain View, Calif.-based Flock was started about 18 months ago with the goal of shaking up a relatively stagnant Web browser world, Chief Strategy Officer Geoffrey Arone said Wednesday.

Mozilla's Firefox browser has gained millions of users, but the end user experience doesn't differ that substantially from older browsers, apart from tabbed browsing, he noted.

"We decided to look at what kind of browser we could build to help people better participate online," Arone said.

The software is linked to popular blogging services, Arone said. That will allow people to read a news story from the browser's RSS (Really Simple Syndication) reader and post a blog entry on that article with a single right click of a mouse.

Other features include integrated search, which lets people scan their desktop and Yahoo Search at the same time. People can share bookmarks and save content on a "Web clipboard" at the bottom of the browser.

"The combined experience (of the enhancements) lends itself to the life cycle of Web consumption--it allows people to discover new content, create new content, consume content and share content," Arone said.

The close integration with Web services is the basis for the company's revenue model as well.

For example, Flock can share revenue with search providers for searches done from Flock, or with sellers when people purchase goods from Amazon.com, Arone explained.

Flock received a flurry of media coverage last fall, when it released an early beta of its browser. But in the process, it garnered some negative feedback from users because the product was not stable enough, Arone said.

The release and subsequent feedback forced the company to revamp its development process and seek more customer input, he said.

"Before we had visionary ideas and lofty ambitions, but revolutions without focus are bedlam," Arone said.

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10 comments

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Give the 'Web 2.0' nonsense a rest
Its just yet another meaningless buzzword used by marketing departments to make something old sound new, and by journalists who desperately want to appear 'in the know' on the latest technology trends.
Posted by (402 comments )
Reply Link Flag
If you can list three AJAX web applications...
that were created before 2003, I'll give you a cookie.

When somebody cites myspace or similar things as Web 2.0, they're using it as a buzz word, yes. What Web 2.0 really is at its core is the creation of fully-featured web-based applications which can be used in place of current applications that reside on a local computer.

Meebo, Writely, youOS, and Google Calendar are some strong showings of what Web 2.0 really is: reliable, upfront applications built on the idea that a web browser can provide all of the necessary tools to empower anyone with an internet connection.
Posted by bourgtai (105 comments )
Link Flag
Flock Browser
It's not a bad browser, I've played with the beta. It lets you make blog entries on the fly, add pictures to your posts from practically any source and lets you share your bookmarks with everyone on the web. It's definately a social browser. It's even built on the same framework as firefox and everyone loves firefox.
Posted by thedreaming (573 comments )
Reply Link Flag
the problem
The way that Flock changed bookmarks is the biggest problem with the browser, besides it's seeming lack of speed and may or may not be their downfall depending on if they decide that A. the user must be forced to learn The Flock Way and use Shadows or Delicious or B. Flock decides that users don't necessarily like the bookmark saving paradigm shift and decides to also use the way that Firefox/Mozilla has been doing it since day 1. Flock is not a natural feeling browser and seems alien to me.

Bart said Opera was not very good because it only had features, but what are the real value adds of Flock? That's right - the features.

You can take all the components of a web browser and sell them off to the highest bidder or do your rev shares, but at the end of the day, with no adoption, it's just another invisible product offering.
Posted by David Dudley (446 comments )
Link Flag
Web 2.0 another great place for hackers
First there was the Web or Web1.0 which was like the "Duke of Hazzards". People still figure out how to trust services being offered on the web when hackers and phishers prowl sites for weak spots.

The weak spot is not in the services. The weak spot is the present web structure that permits anyone to publish content or access content anonymously.

Yeah this is great but at what cost. Now that there is another browser of the Web 2.0 version which tightly integrates other web services and this means it tightly integrates their flaws as well.

How am i to be sure that what I post using this browser is not being tracked and saved by marketing agents and Flock Watchers? Where does privacy of information go from here.

I would have prefered there would be one secured password that no one can break into rather than multiple passwords.

I think there is one company that is working towards this goal. It goes by the name of NetAlter and I see merit in their technology as their browser does not allow anonymous surfing or publishing. Rightly so....when you are not doing anything illegal, why fear revealing ones identity!!! Yet this browser makes available only that information to others that the owner has permited.

Should we call this Web 3.0? I am eagerly waiting for the NetAlter Browser to be launched sometime in 2007; till then I will not flock around the obsolete web.
Posted by guyfrom2006 (33 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I Agreee
So that someone can claim it is Web2.0 enabled and make more money...ha ha.

Why does the computing industry bring in another obsolete stuff to replace an old one? Millions of less techy users get sucked in and the advertisers have a field day...
Posted by guyfrom2006 (33 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Ditto
I am also a bit irritated when people use the Web2.0 loosely to anything that mashes up with another application. Web 2.0 should be an alternative not a replacement. It should not mix with the present set of applications and offer completely different applications and services which are more secured and also user friendly. There should not be a reason for people to install programs on their local computers and instead all applications should become a service with data residing locally. In case of Google and other biggies, I do not trust them. They keep all our data on their servers and thus be able to do whatever they want to with it within certain legal boundaries. I say, why has personal data to reside on another server. Why can't it reside locally in our own PC or our own selected server with the same being integrated with an online service.

It is like saying, I prefer to have my pictures on a image hosting server of my choosing or even my own computer (then it has to be online all the time) and this be only viewed (not being able to copy or save) using a third party web service.

They should not even be able to do a print screen of the images or content.

And if anyone wants to download my images, they should get permission from me.

All of this seems to be standard feature in the NetAlter Browser. For details check out www.netalter.com
Posted by guyfrom2006 (33 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Gecko
Why do people always confuse Firefox with Gecko?
Posted by WulfTheSaxon (75 comments )
Reply Link Flag
 

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