TechCrunch 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 del.icio.us, 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.