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Andreesen Offers New Browser 'Rockmelt' 185

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the that-poor-horse dept.
DrHeasley writes "Rockmelt, available for the first time Monday, is built on the premise that most online activity today revolves around socializing on Facebook, searching on Google, tweeting on Twitter and monitoring a handful of favorite websites. It tries to minimize the need to roam from one website to the next by corralling all vital information and favorite services in panes and drop-down windows. 'This is a chance for us to build a browser all over again,' Andreessen said. 'These are all things we would have done (at Netscape) if we had known how people were going to use the Web.'"
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Andreesen Offers New Browser 'Rockmelt'

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  • I mean, this Andreesen we're talking about. He's still looking to stay relevant when his best days are over 10 years behind him.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 08, 2010 @10:16AM (#34161368)

      Except Andreesen didn't write it, his VC firm funded it. Considering Andreesen has also invested heavily in Digg and Twitter, I'd say he has a decent track record there.

    • by Deep Esophagus (686515) on Monday November 08, 2010 @10:18AM (#34161412)
      I won't take that bet. He has a point that the Huddled Masses use their browsers -- nay, the entirety of teh intrawebz -- for those limited purposes, but the set of people who use their browsers in such a limited capacity intersected with the set of users who would have the motivation and technical awareness to seek out and install a new browser and start using that by default is small to nonexistent.
      • by GlennC (96879)

        Replying to undo bad mod....sorry.

        I wouldn't take that bet either.

      • by hedwards (940851)
        That's possible. More likely you're going to see solutions like Google gears. Or whatever equivalent included in the browser is. By the time you've implemented enough of the standards for that sort of limited browser to work, you might as well implement the rest of them.
      • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Monday November 08, 2010 @10:51AM (#34161734) Journal
        I agree that he has the Huddled Masses approximately accurately characterized; but I think that his major problem will be the fact that you can deliver the vast majority of what his browser promises in the form of a webpage that will work with pretty much any current browser(perhaps not quite as elegantly, since you won't be able to interface with the drop-down menus and things; but webmail isn't as elegant as client-based mail, and that is all the rage, on convenience lines...)

        You've been able to embed multiple sites and information sources in a single page since IFrames, which I'm fairly sure were a feature of one of unfinished portions of Babbage's Difference Engine. Web-based RSS? Similarly old news. Google search boxes? I'm pretty sure that Google's site has one of those... With all the Web 2.0 stuff the kids are going on about these days, you could probably even make such a shambling composite of a site look and feel fairly elegant.

        There is probably that last 10% or so which cannot be done as a simple web page; but the pace of development and the rate of "creative inspiration" in the browser market is huge. If they come up with anything genuinely cool, it'll be a Firefox plugin in two days, a Chrome plugin just after that, a native Opera feature in the next point release(available in the beta version in three weeks, for the Opera die-hards) and being hailed as Steve Jobs' latest brilliant breakthrough in UI perfection in the release of Safari accompanying OSX 10.N+1...

        The problem is not so much that he is wrong; but that being right on that point is going to be a very hard distinction to sell...
        • by Sepodati (746220)

          perhaps not quite as elegantly, since you won't be able to interface with the drop-down menus and things

          I don't think you give enough credit to a dedicated UI and how it influences people's perceptions. Look at the excitement (?) over new Windows releases that add pretty UIs and not much else. Or the multiple iPhone apps that could be a simple webpage. That dedicated UI, dedicated functionality has something to it, I think. IFrames and tabs have been done; maybe people want something else.

          Now, that being sa

          • by Amouth (879122)

            seemed interesting - so i looked at it.. first thing that through me off is - to get an invite you have to do it on facebook - which i refuse to bother with so i can't even do that .. (really a web browser that requires you to sign up for a different companies web based service before you can try it?)

            Second - i figured i'd watch the video and just see what they are doing - looks like chrome with side bars and a lot of extensions - then i saw him say something about landlord and it had an icon showing Tron-

    • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Monday November 08, 2010 @10:42AM (#34161650) Journal
      Given that "creating a new browser" is, when the changes are basically UI layer, pretty damn simple and cheap(and this isn't really a new thing, any VB n00b has been able to drag and drop the IE's rendering engine into their application since forever, Firefox's UI is very nearly just a specially shaped web page wrapped around the web page(yo dog, I herd you like web pages...), and now webkit is the new hotness for basing browsers around).

      I'd be very surprised if it does too much supplanting of the main players, or otherwise sets the world on fire(especially since he is basically just moving the classic 90's "portal" concept out of the webpage and into the browser, which means that any web player with a "portal" style site can offer 90% or so of what he does; but without the download/install) but assuming it has anything resembling a revenue model, either present or plausible future, he should be able to keep the venture going more or less indefinitely at very low cost.

      When you have something that can survive essentially forever on very slim resources it is hard to "fail miserably". Even if you fold, the losses are reasonably constrained, and you don't have to make that much money, or create some plausible promise of future profits, in order to be self sustaining or better. I would be seriously shocked if this "Rockmelt" ends up contributing a single technological innovation to browsers; but having a few UI guys reinventing a combination of IFrames and RSS feeds on top of some FOSS browser base isn't hugely expensive or rocket-surgical.
      • by Sepodati (746220)

        having a few UI guys reinventing a combination of IFrames and RSS feeds on top of some FOSS browser base isn't hugely expensive or rocket-surgical.

        Who says it has to be? I don't think it's going to take over the browser world, either, but it could be useful to a lot of users. Providing a simpler interface, as compared to tabs or IFrames, for the four or five things I use the web for sounds intriguing. I don't know that Rockmelt will actually do that, but it's worth giving a try.

        • by blair1q (305137)

          It's worth giving it a try, but as the bugs in Firefox 4 beta is reminding me, if it omits a feature that a user finds themselves missing, the user will go back to the browser with that feature.

          (In my case the toolbar hides certain buttons, including the one that toggles the bookmarks sidebar, when the menu bar is made sticky. That showed up somewhere between 4b2 and 4b6. And it's bloody annoying that a button I probably clicked 40 times a day isn't there any more. It made me go use Chrome for a few days

        • Nobody, me included. My point was simply that to "fail miserably" one really has to do something horribly expensive, horribly deleterious to one's future options, or something like that. Since doing what Rockmelt is doing is relatively easy and relatively cheap, it is virtually impossible to "fail miserably".

          That's actually a virtue of their venture. Since the majority of their work is done for them, they can give it a shot on a shoestring.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Tridus (79566)

      I won't bet on it failing until Gartner predicts that it'll be making $2 billion in revenue by 2014.

    • $10 says this fails miserably

      Well, that depends on how you look at it.

      If you read the words, it says "federal reserve note" and some other stuff.

      But then if you read Hamiltons stoic face, it says "All your coke goes past my face first. LOL"

    • And he's using his money [wikipedia.org]:

      Andreessen is an investor in social news website Digg and several other early-stage technology startups, like Plazes, Netvibes, CastTV and Twitter. His latest project is Ning, which launched in October 2004.[11] He serves on the board of Facebook,[2] eBay, and Open Media Network, a combined Kontiki (VeriSign) client and media player, launched in 2005. Andreessen is now active in the blogging community. On July 5, 2009, Andreessen announced along with his longtime business partner Ben Horowitz, the formation of their venture capital firm, Andreessen Horowitz, aimed purely at investing in the best new entrepreneurs, products, and companies in the information technology industry.[12]He is currently working on a new web browser, RockMelt.[13] On September 1st, 2009, an investor group including Andreessen Horowitz acquired a majority stake in Skype Limited.[14]

      Yeah, I don't think he's worried about "his best days" being over a decade ago.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by certain death (947081)
      It is just AOL for the 21st century...nothing to see here but what we want you to.
  • Flock (Score:4, Informative)

    by Zouden (232738) on Monday November 08, 2010 @10:09AM (#34161316)

    Isn't there already a browser that does this that no one uses? Why create another browser for no one to use?

    • Re:Flock (Score:5, Insightful)

      by somersault (912633) on Monday November 08, 2010 @10:28AM (#34161508) Homepage Journal

      There were already many MP3 players, touch phones, tablets etc out there before Apple released their iDevices. Just because things have failed in the past doesn't mean they can't take off if you design and market them well.

    • Re:Flock (Score:5, Insightful)

      by NotQuiteReal (608241) on Monday November 08, 2010 @10:31AM (#34161538) Journal
      Q: Why create another browser for no one to use?
      A: $10 million in funding
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ThePhilips (752041)

      Flock was my first though too.

      And why the Flock hasn't cannibalized the FireFox might to be the response to the question why this are not so big news. Power of the web is the power of change: yesterday it was Altavista and news groups and Yahoo boards, today it is Facebook and Twitter and Google, but tomorrow it might be all gone replaced by some new trend in how we share and search for the information.

      And the power of change is what would keep the specialized browsers in a niche for quite some time.

      • Re:Flock (Score:4, Insightful)

        by characterZer0 (138196) on Monday November 08, 2010 @10:39AM (#34161614)

        Maybe someday it will be replaced by a large number of "pages" with useful content grouped into "sites" than can reference other useful content with "links".

      • by rwa2 (4391) *

        I played with Flock once. It was a bit interesting, but not as neat as, say, simply having my smartphone pull down and merge address book entries from Facebook, GMail, etc.

        I like the StumbleUpon approach much better. But I still wouldn't share any of my browsing habits with anyone on Facebook or Twitter, no. I pretty much only occasionally share URLs with the people in my IRC channel. But I suppose that just goes to show how old skool I am :P

    • Isn't there already a browser that does this that no one uses? Why create another browser for no one to use?

      No one uses it? In addition to their normal habit of dismissing niche software / hardware as DOA, Slashdot veterans are suffering from a phenomena where they dismiss and can't understand the third wave of internet users. The user group that is larger than we ever were. Prepare to be left in the dust by the mass's desire to use our precious internet for what we perceive to be inane and pointless.

      • by kamochan (883582)

        Prepare to be left in the dust by the mass's desire to use our precious internet for what we perceive to be inane and pointless.

        Ha! I've already been left in the dust once. This whole "web" thing is 99.9% protocol overhead, and 99% of the content is junk. I want my nn back, it had at least smaller overhead.

    • Re:Flock (Score:5, Informative)

      by nyctopterus (717502) on Monday November 08, 2010 @10:52AM (#34161744) Homepage

      Well, maybe it's because Flock doesn't actually say what it fucking well does on its damn website [flock.com]. People, when making software, try to say what it does on the front page, or with a prominent link. Screenshots are a must. It flabbergasts me that the people at Flock could get this so colossally wrong.

      • by Sepodati (746220)

        I agree. Flock sounded interesting after reading a couple of posts here, so I went to the site. I still have no idea what it really does other than a "social browser". Not to mention the support page, FAQ, etc. are devoid of any help for installing on Linux, even though they offer a download. Some forums mentioned instructions, mostly be getting a .deb from another site, but none of those worked either.

    • by AHuxley (892839)
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flock_(web_browser) [wikipedia.org]
      Yes sounds great version 3 will use the Chromium rendering engine, works on Linux, mac, Windows, FreeBSD.
      The real new trick will be in the tracking, ads, "evercookies" ect.,br> To get users to keep everything running at the same time in the same application, sending back realtime bulk 'value'.
    • by gknoy (899301)

      Perhaps because many users (including me) had never heard of Flock, or never even thought that there might be a Built For Social Networking browser, and thus would never have looked.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Now, where have I heard that idea before... and how did that work out for them?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      If you mean Yahoo, actually still pretty well. Yahoo search is basically dead; but they have a significant stable of non-search properties with huge pageview. Said stable seems increasingly likely to become a vassal of either Bing or Google, dependent on them for search and advertising monetization; but it will be a vassal who brings a large number of eyeballs to the table...
      • by Yvan256 (722131)

        [...] it will be a vassal who brings a large number of eyeballs to the table...

        Shrek: Well, actually, that would be a giant. Now ogres, oh, they're much worse! They'll make a suit from your freshly peeled skin; they'll shave your liver; squeeze the jelly from your eyes! Actually, it's quite good on toast.

      • by DerekLyons (302214) <fairwater@gmFREEBSDail.com minus bsd> on Monday November 08, 2010 @11:41AM (#34162304) Homepage

        Though you're right about Yahoo! branded properties with huge pageviews and a large installed userbase... But the elephant in the room is a property most people don't think of when they think Yahoo! - Flickr.

        Google has tried to make a competitor, but like so many of their attempts outside of search they haven't really put much effort into it.

  • by Enderandrew (866215) <enderandrew@gm[ ].com ['ail' in gap]> on Monday November 08, 2010 @10:10AM (#34161324) Homepage Journal

    There are nice Chrome extensions with Chromed Bird that allow you to easily pull down a menu of Tweets, and have new tweets pop-up. There are entire existing browser projects like Flock designed for this purpose.

    Why do we need this?

    • by mark72005 (1233572) on Monday November 08, 2010 @10:26AM (#34161496)
      So we don't have to use Chrome.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by nexttech (1289308)
        Hate to break it to you, But Rockmelt is based on Chrome
    • by Bieeanda (961632)
      Why do we need all of the other browsers that we already have? Why have more than one search engine? Why climb Everest? You make it sound like the project is going to be a huge inconvenience, when you'll probably never hear of it again.
      • Like Flock, most of these features can be accomplished as extentions to Chrome as opposed to a completely seperate browser. Like the Flock project, if they released their changes as extensions rather than a completley different browser then it would reach a larger audience. And it might help Chrome reach a larger browser share rather than splinter the Chrome user market.

        This looks better than Flock admittedly, but again I'd like to see some of these features just get pushed to the upstream Chrome/Chromium p

  • by an00bis (667089) on Monday November 08, 2010 @10:11AM (#34161326)
    Welp, count me out.
  • by Papeh (1812414) on Monday November 08, 2010 @10:13AM (#34161346)
    He's got the same attitude as the Windows guys. He doesn't get that the browser / OS has a main goal of getting out of the way and letting you work.
    • by hedwards (940851)
      Indeed, this whole problem is asking for a more Google gears style solution than a dedicated browser. Hell, even Firefox's Apps Tab is probably more useful for that purpose. I get that people experimenting is how we get new stuffs, but I can't imagine paying for that until it had gotten somewhere.
    • by Abcd1234 (188840) on Monday November 08, 2010 @10:43AM (#34161666) Homepage

      He's got the same attitude as the Windows guys. He doesn't get that the browser / OS has a main goal of getting out of the way and letting you work.

      And thus you demonstrate that you have no clue how most people spend their time on the internet, and that you are clearly not the target market for this software.

      That's fine. But, as is so common with Slashdotters, you presume that the tiny minority you are a part of somehow represents the majority of humanity. It's cute, but fantastically naive.

      • by aztektum (170569)

        The average user will turn to a Slashdotter type for help when a problem arises. They'll be told to stop using a ridiculous browser that only works with a Facebook account and thus RockMelt will go the way of Cuil.

      • the majority of humanity

        .... The Majority of Humanity are basically the homo sapiens equivalent of retarded sheep. Kinda makes you think fondly of the Nazi Eugenics program, really.

  • Huh (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anrego (830717) * on Monday November 08, 2010 @10:16AM (#34161372)

    This seems like the classic programmer issue of not googling before you code.

    This exists! Not only are there plugins to chrome and firefox for this very purpose, but I believe there are at least 2 actual browsers (which no one uses) built around this idea.

    This does not appear to do anything revolutionary, and certainly does not justify a completely new browser. This could easily have been implemented as an extension to existing browsers.

    • by fusiongyro (55524)

      In general I agree with you, but I think it's worth pointing out that: 1) existing products in a niche don't necessarily preclude a new one from coming in and taking over the niche (such as iPods) and 2) you don't have to take over the world to make a handsome profit. It would be terrifically naive for Andreesen to try and take over the browser market with this thing, but that doesn't mean he won't be able to do better than Flock, which has essentially zero users, and make several million dollars in the pro

      • by Anrego (830717) *

        I guess, although best case scenario I can see the exact same thing happening as happened to netscape:

        1) spend money developing something cool
        2) watch it get really popular
        3) profit??

        Where 3 really is the big problem. How does one make money off a web browser?

        I don't think the old method is gonna work any more.. that is majorly hyped IPO where companies hurl huge bags of money at you. So how do they plan to make a dime off this thing?

  • Wow shiny (Score:4, Funny)

    by Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) on Monday November 08, 2010 @10:16AM (#34161374)

    corralling all vital information and favorite services in panes and drop-down windows.

    You mean like tabs and bookmarks?

  • by XxtraLarGe (551297) on Monday November 08, 2010 @10:17AM (#34161384) Journal
    How did they pick that for a name? It's like they had two dart boards, one with nouns, the other with verb. At least some of the other web browsers' names made sense, (Navigator, Explorer or Safari). Firefox, Chrome & Opera don't really make much sense either, but at least they don't sound ridiculous.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      How did they pick that for a name? It's like they had two dart boards, one with nouns, the other with verb. At least some of the other web browsers' names made sense, (Navigator, Explorer or Safari). Firefox, Chrome & Opera don't really make much sense either, but at least they don't sound ridiculous.

      It's not that bad. Look at it this way: one of the darts could have landed on "ass" and the other on "wipe".

    • Now that you mention it, Opera sounds pretty ridiculous to me.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by MachDelta (704883)

      Maybe FaceMelt was already taken?

      (With my apologies for using a WoW joke)

      • by hedwards (940851)
        I'm guessing that calling it "FacePalm" might've been too on the nose.
      • by AHuxley (892839)
        It sets deep in your OS like stone and melts your privacy into one long term coherent outgoing data stream?
    • by Tim C (15259)

      Firefox doesn't sound ridiculous to you?

      It only makes sense if you know the history, and 99% of people don't.

      • by vlueboy (1799360)

        Firefox doesn't sound ridiculous to you?

        It only makes sense if you know the history, and 99% of people don't.

        To make things worse, "FoxFire" (film) is what old people mis-remember when they want FireFox installed for the first time.

    • by McGruber (1417641)
      "Rock" refers to the venture-capitalists' head(s), while "Melt" refers to the process of extracting cash from them.
  • facebook? (Score:4, Informative)

    by leomekenkamp (566309) on Monday November 08, 2010 @10:18AM (#34161396)

    RockMelt only works if you have a Facebook account.

    Ouch. With facebooks abysmal privacy record I am not going to use this browser.

  • so, basically... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Dzimas (547818) on Monday November 08, 2010 @10:19AM (#34161418)
    This is a browser for people like my mom. Perhaps that'll work, although most people fight back hard when they perceive they're using a dumbed-down tool. We want all the bells and whistles, whether or not we actually need them or know how to use them. Microsoft's latest iterations of Word and Excel demonstrate this admirably.
    • although most people fight back hard when they perceive they're using a dumbed-down tool

      really? Then why so many people still use MS Windows?

  • by mrpacmanjel (38218) on Monday November 08, 2010 @10:24AM (#34161464)

    Nice money if you can get it.

    It seems Mr Andreesen has $10 million burning a hole in his pocket. That must have been some sales pitch.

    Not bad though, mention "Social Web" with your product and it equates to funding.

    I'm going to create my new product - The "Social Toilet" - it's a cubicle that everyone can share and allows you to twitter, facebook, search and share your poop.
    I'm going to need about $10 million to get me started.

    • I'm going to create my new product - The "Social Toilet" - it's a cubicle that everyone can share and allows you to twitter, facebook, search and share your poop. I'm going to need about $10 million to get me started.

      Call it Poop 2.0. Anything-two-oh attracts investors.

    • by hedwards (940851)
      Just as long as you realize that "Twitter Shitter" is not a good trademark to pursue.
    • OMG I have some great social web 3.0 synergies you can leverage with Rate My Poo [ratemypoo.com] integration! I call the patent!

  • According to the Rockmelt blog [rockmelt.com]

    RockMelt is the first browser you log into, it unlocks your Web experience with your Facebook friends, your feeds, your favorite services, even your bookmarks and preferences

    Wow! It unlocks the web experience! That does sound totally awesome!

    Wait, what?

    • by lattyware (934246) <gareth@lattyware.co.uk> on Monday November 08, 2010 @10:32AM (#34161556) Homepage Journal
      I love how it makes a big thing about being all 'on the cloud' - access your settings anywhere! Would be impresive if Mozilla hadn't just pushed out Firefox Sync across the board. This whole idea seems like something that would have been impressive 4 years ago.
      • Opera Link [wikipedia.org] was introduced 3 years ago, and lets you do exactly that (back up all settings to "the cloud", included in the default install, etc.)

        I was pretty impressed, at least.

    • Hmm, I certainly can't think of any other browsers capable of synchronizing a set of data and preferences tied to login credentials... And definitely not one also tied to a best-of-breed email service, online document editor/collaboration environment, and rapidly ascending smartphone OS.

      I also can't think of one from a company whose user experience and marketing chops are so good that people actually pay for that synchronization service, along with the highest ASP in the business for x86 hardware, and th
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by omnichad (1198475)

      It's not the first browser you log into. MSN Explorer was a piece of crap that required a log in too!

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 08, 2010 @10:27AM (#34161500)

    He characterizes his browser as a step up from NETSCAPE...I guess no one told him...

  • Original Blog Post (Score:3, Interesting)

    by wdebruij (239038) * on Monday November 08, 2010 @10:41AM (#34161636) Homepage

    This blog post [rockmelt.com] is the source of the story. Some quotes:

    "Share or tweet links often? Yeah, us too. No more wading through each site’s goofy share widget or copy-pasting URLs. We built sharing directly into the browser, right next to the URL bar. Like a site or story? Click “Share” and BAM – link shared."

    "Behind the scenes, RockMelt is always working on your behalf. 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. And when you open a RockMelt feed, the content is already waiting for you."

    None of this sounds world shattering.

    "Your friends are important to you, so we built them in. Now you’re able to chat, share that piano-playing-cat video everyone’s going to love, or just see what your friends are up to, regardless of what site you’re on."

    Browsing together with friends and commenting is promising. Others have tried and failed, but maybe they can get it right. Some more analysis at the reg [theregister.co.uk].

    • by Chrisq (894406)

      "Your friends are important to you, so we built them in.

      A bit like Fred West [wikipedia.org]

    • by Sepodati (746220)

      Do you visit the same site 10 times a day, checking for new posts or updates?

      This part intrigued me. I pretty much have the same 5 or 6 tabs open all day long and go back and forth looking for updates. If Rockmelt can provide me a better interface to do that, I'm interested. I don't discourage options, even if they don't work for me. :)

      -John

  • I bet they didn't write a new rendering engine... probably using Webkit or something.
    So they basically just re-skinned a browser. But still might be useful for some users.

  • I woke up this very morning and said to myself "Self, HTML5/AJAX development would benefit from a new browser having to be debugged, tested and developed against, especially one that can introduce a whole new paradigm and is more about showing off new features rather than perfecting old standards. In fact, the least standards compliant the better I say. Yes, self, we need more pain. We craves pain, we needs it. That's why we do web development is it not?"

  • Just what we need - a browser built of smoke and mirrors.
  • Bad call, you suck. You've taken your once great insights and whored yourself out for money-laundering of 10 million dollars.

    There's a fine line between brilliance and madness and you just jumped it.

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