RockMelt and Facebook struck an integration deal this month, but an acquisition could help the social network battle Google's Chrome Web browser online.
Facebook and RockMelt won't admit that their recent
integration agreement is not a prelude to an acquisition
, but it's not hard to find the value in such an arrangement if the
companies decided to pursue a deal.
Why do this? For RockMelt, it would be a matter of
survival. For Facebook, appropriating RockMelt for its 700 million-plus users
could provide a super countermeasure to the rise of Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Chrome Web browser,
which has over 160 million users.
Launched last November with backing from serial
entrepreneur Marc Andreessen, RockMelt
is a social Web browser. A niche product, it has a few hundred thousands users.
The application frames the browsing experience with
people's Facebook contacts along the left edge of the browser window after
users log into RockMelt via their Facebook e-mail and password. The right side
of RockMelt includes buttons for accessing the Facebook News Feed, Facebook
Profile, Twitter tweet stream and timeline.
RockMelt has been steadily improving the browser's speed
and feature functionality, culminating in the RockMelt beta 3 launched
June 14. The new version lets users manage Facebook friend requests,
messages and notifications directly in the browser instead of solely on
Facebook.com. When users start a chat on Facebook.com, it will open a
These capabilities are the result of the companies' first
formal integration. And it might not be the last. "RockMelt's deep
integration with Facebook makes it easier for people to take their friends with
them around the Web, creating more personal and meaningful experiences wherever
they go," said Ethan Beard, director of platform partnerships for
Facebook, about the deal.
RockMelt told eWEEK its hasn't held any acquisition talks
with Facebook, but perhaps it should. While the browser has a vibrant
community of active users, the market has not proven patient for social
Indeed, there is an uneasy parallel between Flock,
easily the most popular of all the social browsers and RockMelt. Flock based
its software on Google's Chrome browser before folding last year. RockMelt is
also based on the open source Chromium project behind Chrome.
Ironically, it's Google's popular Chrome browser that
Facebook could attack if it chose to buy its new partner.
Facebook and Google are locked in one of those primordial
struggles for Web dominance, seeking to lure and attain as many users as
possible and make money through online advertising served to those consumers. This
is why Google has been struggling to bring more social elements to its Web