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Summary:

Flock, the popular socially-based browser built on Mozilla, has a new Windows beta that rides atop Chromium, the same code base used by Google for the Chrome browser. Speed, extensions and a proven track record on mobiles are the main reasons for Flock’s browser engine swap.

Flock, the popular browser built atop Mozilla’s Firefox but with a social networking aspect for easy sharing of web information, has become the first major third-party browser to use Google’s Chromium platform, the open-source browser used for Google Chrome. As WebWorkerDaily notes, the platform should turbo-charge Flock’s performance at a time when speeds of Firefox (and its underlying platform, which Flock is moving away from) lag behind Apple’s new Safari 5 and Google’s latest Chrome browser.

Flock’s browser change wasn’t totally unexpected, however. Back in March of 2009, CEO Shawn Hardin told our sister site Ostatic that his company would “continue to make architectural decisions that balance what’s best for our users and what’s best for Flock as a business.” So once Google Chrome added support for extensions last year, the final piece of the puzzle snapped into place for Flock to use Chromium — up to that point, Mozilla’s use of extensions to increase browser functionality were relatively unique to Firefox.

So why else would a browser solution like Flock consider moving to Chromium when Mozilla makes a superb browser? As Om said last year when discussion regarding a potential platform change for Flock started, it all comes down to mobile. While Mozilla continues to evolve the mobile version of Firefox for Maemo and Android devices, Google is already there with Chromium. Indeed, browser efficiencies in Google’s Chrome browser for the desktop are leveraged in the mobile browser for Android. For example Froyo, or Android 2.2, brings Google’s V8 JavaScript engine from the big screen to the handheld. Flock knows that the future is mobile, so it’s betting on a horse that already has a commanding lead.

Related research report from GigaOM Pro (sub req’d):

WebKit Is Great, but It Isn’t the Great Unifier

  1. I wouldn’t call Mozilla superb anymore. I support about a hundred users in my position and Firefox has become a performance dog.

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