In just a few days, Rockmelt, the “social” or “Facebook” web browser which launched on November 7th, 2010, will be celebrating its first birthday. The browser which is backed by Marc Andreessen (Netscape founder), got off a hot start and was placed on Twitter’s list of top tweeted tech trends for 2010. However, has since appeared to have cooled down. I hadn’t heard much about the social browser in quite sometime until recently when I was having a discussion with a friend of mine, Devon Zdatny, who when I asked, “What browser do you use?” replied with “Rockmelt,” my response followed along the lines of “Really? I didn’t know anyone still used that.”
Which then led me to check BestTechie’s analytics for the past year to see how many Rockmelt visitors we received. The number wasn’t that impressive: 538 which equated to less than 0.05% of total visits that came to BestTechie. Now, we aren’t an extremely large site, so I’m not sure how representative that sample may be, but it’s still interesting. I’d also be curious to know the statistics for larger sites, if you have any, feel free to leave a comment with them.
After Devon peaked my curiosity in the browser again, I decided to re-download and install it. A quick overview of the browser for those who have never heard of it before:
- It’s based on Chromium (Google Chrome’s open source project)
- It has built-in Facebook support + apps for other sites like Twitter
- It makes it easy to follow sites you like to read via built-in RSS reader of sorts.
- It has built-in sharing mechanisms.
- Built-in “read it later” feature
I should start off by saying, I tried Rockmelt when it was first released but dismissed it rather quickly after seeing it was just a modified version of Chromium. However, after trying it out again I think that may actually be a huge benefit of the browser.
The fact that it’s built using Chromium is a plus for me because I’m in love with Google Chrome — it’s by far my browser of choice. It also makes it easy to sync with your Google account to get all your latest bookmarks, apps, etc. I was also impressed with how fast it seems, especially with all the additional apps running in the background. It seems to load pages faster (or at least) more fluidly than Chrome, but I could just be imagining that.
I thought the built-in features would be cumbersome or a bother but so far they are not. Which is the opposite of what I remember when I first tried it, so that’s a pleasant surprise.
Rockmelt is a solid browser, it’s definitely a nice way to interact with Facebook — the other apps (Twitter, YouTube, etc) are somewhat subpar, but the Facebook integration is awesome. I guess I was perhaps too quick to dismiss it at first. I also like the way it handles keeping tabs on your favorite sites so you can easily track new posts. One thing I would love to see is integration with bit.ly accounts for the sharing feature so I can use my own custom bit.ly Pro domain.
Should you try Rockmelt? I’d say yes, even if you tried it in the past and didn’t like it, try it again. You may be surprised. As for how long I plan to use Rockmelt… that remains to be seen, but I’m going to try and stick with it for now.