Blog Post

Flock Lands To Cheers & Jeers

flockTechCrunch reported this morning that Flock was launching publicly today, in about four hours or so. Apparently it was out on the filesharing networks, prompting the company to pull back the curtain and let the beta out of the bag. The hype around Flock has been in the high-gear for sometime, and it was about time the folks released the product.

Many were anxious to take a look at the product, and were even willing to overlook a sloppy demo at the Web 2.0 conference. Flock started life as Round Two with a focus on security extensions but quickly changed its game to being a social browser. What it means is that the browser integrates social apps like, Flickr, RSS readers and blogging tool. On paper, this makes absolute sense, but then reality and concepts rarely have much in common.

So what does the world at large generally think of this? The early verdict is that there is no verdict. Paul Kedrosky, a man of few choice words says, “I’ve messed with it and been largely unimpressed. It is nowhere near as feature-rich as my preferred browsing tool, Maxthon.” Solution Watch had a more indepth review of the product, and are generally enthusiastic. But being 100% honest, I’m still not sure I’m changing my browser to have a way to integrate delicious and a blogging tool into my browsing experience,” writes Frederico Oliveira. After playing around with it for a few hours, I do find myself asking the very same questions as others.

It is a good attempt to integrate a lot of social apps in once place, and more power to the team for attempting that. I like the Flickr integration a lot. Kudos for adding a little pep to the browsing experience. It is certainly faster than Firefox. Since I am a bit of a Camino bigot, so there is little less attraction to a permanent switch. Will others be as resistant to switch from Firefox? (Flock founder Bart DeCrem gives his side of the story and says Flock is not forking the Mozilla codebase.) The one function I was attracted to, the blogging tool, is a bit limited, though I have to say dragging photos off the Flickr stream into a post, is a pretty cool feature.

Maybe I will get used to Flock later (UI is pretty nice), but for now I find scratching my head, wondering if this will ever be my permanent browser. I am sure like me there are others who are equally resistant to switching from a great set of desktop applications we use like Ecto, Net News Wire, and Cocalicious.

Clearly, Flock’s business model is to get referral dollars – Yahoo is their search engine of choice – from search engines much like the Mozilla Foundation, and Opera. I guess they have some partnerships with other social networking start-ups, which are going to kick referral dollars their way. (Oh, the sweet sound of VC dollars churning!) I think it is important for the company to talk about their long term future as a business entity and not just a cool browser start-up. Still, when you Meet The Flockers, shake their hand, tell them what you don’t like, and I am pretty sure the next version will have a fix.

23 Responses to “Flock Lands To Cheers & Jeers”

  1. I’m not hard-core on switching anytime soon, however, I’ve been looking for a way to get a browser to integrate my bookmarks for a while. That’s probably the coolest feature – in my opinion – included in this piece of software.


  2. MIT Dude

    If Flock is the poster child for Web 2.0 then I have got to be honest, I am disappointed! It seems a lot of window dressing on top of a normal browser (FF).

    FWIW, I think Flock is more like Web 1.1a SP1 than Web 2.0.

  3. I’m not sure if I noticed the speed boost on my Mac — I basically compare browsers to Safari as far as speed goes, and FF nor Flock come close, so I’ll keep my default browser. Obviously Cocoa apps will be always be significantly faster then others, so I don’t know how the Flockers will ever compete with the launch and load times of Safari.

    I realize this is an early prototype (right?) but the interface isn’t nearly as polished as I was hoping. The bookmarks/favorites sidebar looks like they forgot to design it, and the Shelf could do with some touch-ups as well. The Flickr integration at the top just looked bulky IMO too.

    I’m sure they’ll be fixing my little niggles so I’m not worried. Big congrats to them for getting the app out so soon, even though it was mainly because the P2P networks already released it :)

  4. i Have tried setting up my blog to post through w.blogger and other such similar tools. the idea is basically to use the Xml-rpc frame work. The browser stops being just a medium to view the web only

  5. I have found it to be a little faster, again i like the interface and some of the features (if fully realised) could be really interesting. I think the hype surrounding the project, whilst helpful for raising capital no doubt, works against the project in that it raises expections too high. Given time it feels like flock could develop into something genuinely fascinating.

  6. I think it is not Yahoo! that is the search engine of choice. The default search engine is still Google…but the first buton in the search tool box is Yahoo!..if u type anything in the address bar, it uses Google to search and redirects to the first result of the search(just as Firefox does).. I am afraid how can Yahoo! be the search engine of choice, when the default search engine is Google!

    I too didnt notice any appreciable increase in speed. But what really is cute, is the del.ici.ous thingie that they have integrated! and the feed based model that they have put in..these two rock!

  7. I know a couple of people on the development and design side, and first off I want to make sure that they don’t take this personally. These are just some impressions…

    I don’t notice a speed increase, but then I don’t notice a decrease, either. Firefox occassionally gives me the pinwheel of death and I have to shut it down, but only every few days. I’m giving Flock some time before it pisses me off.

    What I love about it is the fat-client/thin-client convergence thing. I set up my account, and now anything I add to that from another browser is instantly in my Flock faves, and anything I favorite in Flock is instantly added to my faves. It really breaks down the local/remote barrier that way.

    I’ve seen the drag and drop blogging demoed, but haven’t played with it yet. At the time, I thought it looked pretty awesome. But considering that each blog (especially on MT and WP) has it’s own classes and styles for image placement and text layout (read: custom, generally hand-coded HTML and CSS) I wonder how they will handle that.

    Definitely using it and keeping an eye out. I’m sure they could use a bug report or ten!

  8. Brandon writes:
    “so i think this really stops at the web 2.0 early adopter crowd.”

    As do many other technologies coming to market these days w. a Web 2.0 as part of their elevator pitch.

    Well put.

    I spent a bit more time using it. I created a WordPress blog account and configured the blogging tool to post to it. Worked OK … some of the formatting didn’t make it through, but I liked the implementation … or the idea of it, I suppose.

    Everyone is impressed with the speed … I cannot say that I noticed the difference, especially since I am quite happy w. Firefox’s performance (and I make it do a lot with all the extensions and 4 startup/home pages!)

    Again, so far, not enough to justify a switch.

  9. I tested it as soon as it was announced. I wasn’t impressed but I see where Flock is headed, and if they get it right I’m sure a lot of users will eat it up. It’s not the browser for me, at least not yet, but I think it has some potential. I wrote more about it at my own site, if anyone wants the in depth story.

  10. is this a mac only thing (speed)? seems to run a slower for me than opera/firefox. i tested the blog posting… worked like a charm. im assuming the other things work really well as well. the result? likely to be even more useless blog posts on the internet over the next few months

    i personally think that browsers are pretty easy to change- as the functionality is always fundamentally the same, so there won’t be much of a holdup in adoption… but i dont think they’ll get the same aclaim as firefox which kills them of any upseating potential. so i think this really stops at the web 2.0 early adopter crowd.

  11. checking it out right now … I need help understand the MAJOR features. I have read all about it on various postings, etc. I am checking it out w. a very open mind, but been using it for 15 minutes and still looking for reasons why one would need Flock vs. Firefox and select extenstions (that’s what I like about extensions: just get what you like … al a cart)

    Either way, shout out to Flock folks for their hard work.