An Open-Source Search Engine

By Chris Preimesberger  |  Posted 2005-10-21 Print this article Print

Flock uses an open-source search engine (Gecko, which Firefox also uses) that automatically indexes every Web site a user visits for easy rediscovery, and the ability to easily share favorites with friends.

Flock co-founder and CEO Bart Decrem, a veteran of the short-lived Eazel user interface company, which designed a new face for Linux during its 1999-2001 time frame, told Ziff Davis Internet that the company's servers were very busy Thursday night and Friday delivering downloads of Flock, but that the company had no hit counter and couldn't determine exactly how many were downloaded.

"Its been going well so far," Decrem said from the Pop!Tech conference in Maine, where he spoke Friday.

"We have a pretty fancy mirror system thats distributing the downloads transparently.

"Remember, this is a developers' version only, not consumer-grade. We still have a lot of work to do yet, but much of the basic functionality is already there. We're an open-source project after all; we're looking for help from Web developers at this point in getting bugs fixed and some new ideas in the software."

Decrem said that Flock is aiming for Dec. 15 as a release date for Flock's consumer-grade beta.

Flock is working on its business model but is concentrating on getting people to use the browser first, Decrem said.

"We are a venture-capital-funded company, so of course we need to make some money," Decrem said with a laugh.

"We think that if we can provide a service that users love and they have full confidence in, they'll continue to use it.

"In the distribution of the browser is where we can be profitable. We want our users to trust us to not be intrusive (when they browse the Web), so they can do what they want to do online."

For example, Decrem said, Flock is now evaluating various blogging sites as Google's Blogger, MoveableType, and LiveJournal for compatibility.

Flock, if successful in attracting a large number of users, can create a good revenue stream by recommending potential bloggers to one or more of those outside sites.

Click here to read more about Flocks features.

Flock would receive payment for every user that Flock sends to other sites, Decrem said.

Users also can take their current blogs in sites like those mentioned above and "activate" them in Flock, Decrem said.

"It's amazing what can be done with services like this," Decrem said. "Opera [the Norway-based free browser] was able to do away with all their banner ads recently just by adding a Google search bar.

"Just having a successful Start page and something like what Opera is doing [the Google bar] can be enough to keep the lights on," Decrem said.

Decrem said the company is looking at other features, such as instant messaging, to add for its "consumer-grade" version in December.

"Thats an interesting question, messaging and/or e-mail," he said. "We don't want to bundle something like Thunderbird (Mozilla's open-source e-mail client), because they already do a fine job now on their own. But we'll think about how we might add messaging at some point."

Because it is an early beta release, and there are still plenty of bugs, Flock developers are warned in the documentation.

"While we are very excited about what we are doing, we want to make sure that you have been fully forewarned that this browser will crash from time to time and that any settings you save in this browser may quite possibly be erased, lost, or overwritten," they wrote.

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Chris Preimesberger Chris Preimesberger was named Editor-in-Chief of Features & Analysis at eWEEK in November 2011. Previously he served eWEEK as Senior Writer, covering a range of IT sectors that include data center systems, cloud computing, storage, virtualization, green IT, e-discovery and IT governance. His blog, Storage Station, is considered a go-to information source. Chris won a national Folio Award for magazine writing in November 2011 for a cover story on and CEO-founder Marc Benioff, and he has served as a judge for the SIIA Codie Awards since 2005. In previous IT journalism, Chris was a founding editor of both IT Manager's Journal and and was managing editor of Software Development magazine. His diverse resume also includes: sportswriter for the Los Angeles Daily News, covering NCAA and NBA basketball, television critic for the Palo Alto Times Tribune, and Sports Information Director at Stanford University. He has served as a correspondent for The Associated Press, covering Stanford and NCAA tournament basketball, since 1983. He has covered a number of major events, including the 1984 Democratic National Convention, a Presidential press conference at the White House in 1993, the Emmy Awards (three times), two Rose Bowls, the Fiesta Bowl, several NCAA men's and women's basketball tournaments, a Formula One Grand Prix auto race, a heavyweight boxing championship bout (Ali vs. Spinks, 1978), and the 1985 Super Bowl. A 1975 graduate of Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif., Chris has won more than a dozen regional and national awards for his work. He and his wife, Rebecca, have four children and reside in Redwood City, Calif.Follow on Twitter: editingwhiz

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