A View from Erica Naone

Why Did Facebook Partner With a Social Browser Maker?

The world’s leading social network may see RockMelt as a way into the browser market.

  • June 16, 2011

When we reviewed an early version of the “social” Web browser RockMelt last Novement, its Facebook integration seemed impressive, but other features seemed tacked on:

Facebook, however, is the clear first-class citizen, and all other sites are secondary. I found that updates from Facebook appeared almost instantly, while updates from my Twitter accounts and other feeds were sluggish or nonexistent.

Now the company has chosen to fully embrace Facebook’s supremacy in its design, by partnering with the company to integrate Facebook even more with the browser. According to April Dembosky at the Financial Times, Facebook “initiated the collaboration and devoted months of engineering time to it.” Facebook didn’t invest any money, but shared tons of expertise. Dembosky writes:

“Our goal isn’t to rebuild the web inside Facebook,” said Ethan Beard, Facebook’s director of platform partnerships. “Our goal is to make it easier for Facebook users to bring their friends with them as they browse the web.”

Mr Beard said Facebook chose to work with RockMelt because of its focus on social, but said the company is open to partnering with browser giants like Mozilla, Microsoft, and Google.

“We would be excited to work with any and all browser manufacturers to make them social,” he said.

Previous social browser attempts haven’t done well. Remember Flock? But the Washington Post suggests that Facebook has a good reason to lend its weights to RockMelt’s efforts:

The RockMelt partnership provides Facebook with a potential springboard into the Web browser market, which has become more competitive since Google Inc. joined nearly three years ago.

If Facebook wants to continue fighting Google, it’s in its interest to tighten its ties with RockMelt and further establish itself as the lens through which users view the Web.

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