The man behind Netscape, Marc Andreessen, is funding a new browser targeted at social networking users.
RockMelt takes a very different approach to existing browsers, being deeply integrated with Facebook and other social networking sites. Indeed, it requires a Facebook account to work. Users can tweet, IM friends with Facebook Chat, make status updates or share items directly from the page.
It’s an idea first put into practice by Flock, which was launched three years ago with similar social networking features; while this never made it big, that may simply be because it was a little head of its time, before social networks really took off.
The Rockmelt interface is pretty similar to that of any other browser. The main difference is that a list of a user’s friends are displayed in a sidebar on the left, and a list of favorite social sites on the right.
It’s particularly aimed at what could be termed the obsessive user.
“Do you visit the same site 10 times a day, checking for new posts or updates? Well, RockMelt keeps track of all your favorite sites for you, alerting you when a new story comes out, a friend posts new pictures, or a new video is available,” says the company.
“And when you open a RockMelt feed, the content is already waiting for you. You can Like, comment, reply, retweet, share – all the actions you’ve come to expect from each service you follow.”
RockMelt is claimed to make search faster and better. Search results are loaded immediately, allowing users to quickly flip through them with their keyboard.
The company says RockMelt is the first browser to be fully backed by the cloud, so that users can access their personal browsing history from anywhere.
Based on Chromium, RockMelt is currently available for Windows and the Mac – with ‘a few kinks and bugs’ – here. It’s free: like Firefox, it will be monetized through a revenue share from search results.