Meet RockMelt – new browser could define social age

8 Nov 2010

Netscape founder Marc Andreesen has emerged as one of the investors behind a new web browser that may define the social age. RockMelt aims to do three things: move through web pages, keep up with friends and search.

RockMelt is the brainchild of Tim Howes and Eric Vishria. The company has raised an undisclosed sum of venture capital from Andreesen Horowitz, as well as veterans like VMWare co-founder Diane Greene, Bill Campbell and Josh Kopelman.

The company describes RockMelt as a fast, secure and stable browser that’s s built on Chromium, the open-source project behind Google’s Chrome browser.

“With RockMelt, we’ve re-thought the user experience because a browser can and should be about more than simply navigating web pages,” the company’s founders said on the RockMelt blog.

“Today, the browser connects you to your world. Why not build your world right into your browser?

“Your friends are important to you, so we built them in. Now you’re able to chat, share that piano-playing cat video everyone’s going to love, or just see what your friends are up to, regardless of what site you’re on. Your favourite sites are important to you, so we built them in, too. Now you can access them from anywhere, without leaving the page you’re on. And RockMelt will tell you when something new happens.

“Share or tweet links often? Yeah, us, too. No more wading through each site’s goofy share widget or copy-pasting URLs. We built sharing directly into the browser, right next to the URL bar. Like a site or story? Click ‘Share’ and BAM – link shared. You can use it on any site to post to Facebook or tweet about it on Twitter. It’s just one click away. That easy,” they said.

A child of the cloud computing age

RockMelt’s creators describe it as the first browser to be fully backed by the web because it enables users to access their personal browser experience from anywhere.

The browser tracks a user’s favourite sites and when a new story comes out or a friend posts something on Facebook it informs you.

“And when you open a RockMelt feed, the content is already waiting for you. You can like, comment, reply, retweet, share – all the actions you’ve come to expect from each service you follow.”

They said RockMelt makes search faster and better, eradicating the web-old practice of clicking back and forward by using your keyboard to flip through Google search results as if you were leafing through a magazine.

“We’re based on Chromium, the open-source project behind Google’s Chrome browser, which in turn is based on WebKit, the open-source HTML layout engine started by Apple, as well as a host of other projects from Mozilla and others. These projects, which we contribute to, represent the best browser technology out there. RockMelt wouldn’t be possible without these projects, as well as the open APIs, help and support we’ve received from Facebook, Twitter and others. We’re proud and deeply grateful to be able to build on the shoulders of these giants.”

Access to RockMelt is by invitation only but users can sign up here for early access.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years