I’m not yet special enough to blather my opinion all over the PC World blogs, so I’ll do it here.
For those of you who don’t know, RockMelt is a new start-up web browser. That’s right — web browser. Bet you haven’t thought of web browsers in awhile, huh, at least not since Google Chrome came out a few years ago (and shook things up, but didn’t really successfully destroy the Firefox fanbase). The main hook of RockMelt seems to be this: it integrates social networking directly into the browser, so you’ll never have to leave what you’re doing to check out Facebook or Twitter again. Or…something like that.
eWeek.com has a good article on why RockMelt shows promise, even though it’s diving headfirst into a market with big guys such as Firefox, Safari, Chrome, and even (or, should I say, especially) Internet Explorer. Unfortunately, I think that all of the great things about RockMelt — its social networking integration, its cloud-based system, even its ability to work on both Mac OS and Windows — are at best neutral reasons for switching over. Honestly, unless RockMelt has something else to bring to the table — I’m talking something of the “time travel” or “really pretty” variety — it’s probably not going to get anywhere.
Let’s take a look at RockMelt’s strengths, and why they’re neutral at best — and a potential downfall at worst:
RockMelt features social networking integration
Wow, in this day and age of Twitterbook, Diggit, and StumbleSpace, social networking integration is a great thing, right? RockMelt features sidebars where you can constantly check-in on, and be updated about, your friends goings-on (going-ons? goings-ons?) in Twitter and Facebook. Awesome!
Wrong. Probably the single best thing about Twitter, Facebook, Myspace, and all of those social networking websites is the fact that they’re absolute time-wasters. People can spend hours — maybe even days — clicking from one Facebook profile…to another…to another…to another…to anther…you get the point. Twitter, StumbleUpon, Reddit, Digg, every social networking website is based on connecting one thing to another. This person likes this person who likes this website which links to this Facebook account who likes this video whose uploader has these friends who like this band…etc. Everybody will tell you that they’re “only on Facebook so they can keep in touch with their friends,” but that’s a lie. People are on social networking websites so they DO NOT HAVE TO SOCIALIZE.
RockMelt is being developed on a flawed premise — that people want to be able to see all of their social networking connections at once, so they can get that over and done with and get on with their lives. Uh, no. And this, my good friends, is why Windows Phone 7′s $100 million marketing campaign will also fail. People want more things to do, not less. If you take away someone’s five hours of Facebook, three hours of Twitter, and two hours of StumbleUpon…they’ll have to, I don’t know, work or go outside or something. The horror!
It’s cloud-based — so all of your bookmarks and settings will be everywhere you go
Um, hello Xmarks, and thank you for playing.
It tracks the user’s favorite sites
RockMelt keeps track of your favorite websites — I’m not sure if this is by view count (bad) or by a user “favoriting” certain sites (also not great). If it’s by hit count, this is a good idea…in theory, only in theory, and it should really stay in theory. Because, let’s face it — nobody wants to explain to their boss/mom/girlfriend/grandmother why Facebook/stupiddrinkinggames.com/porn/the double rainbow song is their most-visited site.
If it keeps track based on what you request it keep track of, this is also not ideal — see my above argument about wasting time. Seriously, guys, if suddenly my browser kept track of all my favorites, letting me know when they were updated so that I could save time…I would have an extra hour and a half every morning where I didn’t just check all of my social networking sites and all of my favorite websites and all of my shopping sites…what would I even do with that time? Probably write a novel, or something. Really, now, we can’t have that.
It’s “well designed”
It looks like Chrome. Chrome with a (literal) side of Facebook and Twitter.
Ah, yes. Instead of having to open a new tab or window and type in a search, RockMelt features integrated search — in other words, you can just type your search in the search box and an overlay of the results will pop up.
I’m sorry, but this sounds annoying. Perhaps it’s just me, but I hate when random things start popping up all over the place. Usually, those things are called pop-ups, and there are several thousand dozen programs dedicated specifically to getting rid of them. Even if it’s not as annoying as a pop-up, it still sounds a bit like Google’s “instant search,” which, in my honest opinion, is SO ANNOYING. I’m not sure why I feel that way, I just do. It might be that sometimes I see the search result I want, but I’m typing so fast that I keep going and then it disappears. Or that sometimes I want to go back one page by pressing backspace, but instead of going back I end up backspacing one character and I get a whole new set of search results. Either way, it’s not my cup of tea.
However, this is probably the most non-threatening feature of RockMelt.
It works on Windows and Mac
eWeek says something to the extent of, any browser that wants to make it in today’s world needs to be Windows- and Mac- compatible. I call…shenanigans (my mother reads this blog). If that were the case, why is Internet Explorer such a champion? Oh yeah, right, because most people don’t care and won’t switch browsers EVEN IF their browser is proven to be really, really bad.
And that, I suppose, is the main point: if Internet Explorer is still the leading web browser, for whatever reason, it’s clear that any newcomers onto the scene (unless they have the backing of Google, or something like Google…such as Google) are going to fail miserably.