RockMelt Is the Newest Social Browser

Netscape co-founder Marc Andreesen knows a thing or two about web browsing, so his backing of RockMelt has turned a few heads. He, and other investors, recently put up about $10 million to launch the beta version of RockMelt . . . So what’s it all about?

RockMelt CEO Eric Vishria and CTO Tim Howes think that the web browsing experience is moving away from page navigation and toward social integration, consuming information, and searching. So, it’s on these three pillars that they’ve built their social browser. Those fortunate enough to get one of the limited beta copies of the Chromium-based RockMelt are getting used to something like this: A left rail for Facebook friends, right rail for sites, and top rail for searching. It’s nothing too mind boggling; instead, it should make it easier to do all the things we’re already accustomed to doing.

The friends rail gives you constant access to status updates, and the option to click to see their Facebook streams. RockMelt also serves as a chat client by integrating Facebook chat into the friends rail. A “share” button is ever-present to distribute any web page among your friends. The “bookmark” bar provides notification of new content added to your sites, and the option to click to see an RSS feed. And rather than using the search bar to go to Google, searches in the top rail are met with instant results pre-leaded into the browser for preview.

It’s clear right away that Vishria and Howes have recognized some major themes in how we use the web. But do these habits require a redesign of Internet browsing? We’ll find out shortly . . . Mark Zuckerberg recently disappointed many when he shut down the rumors of a Facebook phone. But hey, at least addicts will now have a dedicated browser.