Kara Swisher

Recent Posts by Kara Swisher

Here's a Better Name for RockMelt: The FaceBrowser (Plus BoomTown's Two-Dude Video)

At the end of this video interview with BoomTown about RockMelt–a new social browser that debuted in beta last night via yet another broken news embargo (thus, I have just joined the army of TechCrunch’s Michael Arrington on this irksome issue)–the two founders politely tried to gloss over my calling it a “Facebook browser.”

Except, um, it is.

Sure, as Eric Vishria and Tim Howes correctly note, there are Twitter and other news apps present. And I even like the mantra for RockMelt, which “re-imagines the browser around friends, feeds, and sharing.”

But that would be–for the most part right now–friends on Facebook, feeds from Facebook and sharing with Facebook.

In fact, the whole shebang is essentially–as you can see from the screenshots below–a big wet kiss to Facebook.

Still, RockMelt certainly could cause a bang, since it is funded by Marc Andreessen, via his venture firm Andreessen Horowitz–along with a passel of Silicon Valley luminaries such as longtime exec and mentor to the tech stars, Bill Campbell.

Andreessen, of course, is the legendary entrepreneur who invented the browser and founded the first commercial Internet company–Netscape–16 years ago. (He is also, coincidentally or not, on the board of Facebook.)

Still, with all its pluses, the Mountain View, Calif.-based RockMelt could have a hard time breaking through the crowded browser software market to reach consumers.

Microsoft now dominates the market with its Internet Explorer, followed by other big players, such as Google’s Chrome, Apple’s Safari and Mozilla’s Firefox.

While not the first browser focused on social networking–that would be Flock, which is still around–RockMelt is trying to distinguish itself using these now-popular and innovative services.

You sign on to it using Facebook, natch, and the friends you choose are arrayed down one side vertically, while news and other apps are on the other.

It’s built on Google’s Chromium open source technology, which makes RockMelt a truly Silicon Valley creation.

It will be interesting to see how RockMelt does with its powerful and myriad social connections, but until we find out, here are Howes (who once worked at Netscape) and Vishria talking about their plans:

And here are the screenshots of RockMelt (click on the images to make them larger):

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Another gadget you don’t really need. Will not work once you get it home. New model out in 4 weeks. Battery life is too short to be of any use.

— From the fact sheet for a fake product entitled Useless Plasticbox 1.2 (an actual empty plastic box) placed in L.A.-area Best Buy stores by an artist called Plastic Jesus