RockMelt, Facebook Could Gang Up on Google
Chrome, which is serving as the window port for Web applications running on platforms such as Google TV and the Chrome Operating System is a major part of Google's plans for expansion online. To counter Google's Chrome march, the social network could grab RockMelt and appropriate it and position it for growth in a couple of ways: either as the foundation for a new user experience within its walled garden, or keep it as a separate product.Facebook wants to facilitate it mobile Web growth, where it only has 250 million users, and is reportedly building an HTML5-based platform for mobile apps. RockMelt, which offers application tabs on the right-hand rail, could be one vehicle for this. IDC analyst Al Hilwa isn't sure an acquisition is in the cards at this stage, noting that one likely would have happened by now. "I suspect Facebook is trying to figure out if marrying a browser would create an alignment that might divide and potentially reduce its users," Hilwa told Eweek. "On the other hand, browsers have gained share by being distributed through a strong channel like devices or by tie-ins to major sites, like Google Search for Google Chrome." "Ultimately, Rockmelt has to strike some distribution agreements to expand its share. To some extent this partnership with Facebook acknowledges the huge dependency that RockMelt has had on Facebook." Still, there is some happy irony in the notion that Facebook could acquire and appropriate a browser closely related to Chrome, one of Google's key entry points for continued growth on the Web.
While the first option might be preferable on the desktop, where Facebook is entrenched, the second option might be a viable solution to its quest for mobile expansion.