Famed investor Marc Andreessen is at it again. Andreessen announced recently that he has invested in an early-stage startup called RockMelt, which promises a new browser experience. He wouldn't divulge any information about the browser, but he said it's being built from scratch to reflect market desire. Great. But the problem is, we just don't need another browser.
Right now, the market is overrun with a variety of browsers that appeal to every need. Flock is for the social-networking fanatic. Firefox, Internet Explorer, and Google's Chrome browser are for companies and consumers looking for a traditional browsing experience. Opera and Safari are less popular than the competition, but they also offer some nice features that appeal to users. And that's just a sampling. There are many more browsers. It's a crowded space.
The companies competing in the market are innovating at a rapid rate. Firefox is faster than ever. Microsoft has high hopes for Internet Explorer 8, and Chrome is one of the most user-friendly browsers ever made. Is there room for another browser to further segment the market? I don't think so.
1. What will it offer?
Unless RockMelt has something innovative and unique that Google, Apple, Microsoft and Mozilla employees haven't thought about, it's doubtful that RockMelt will grab users' attention. At this point, consumers want speed and more usability. Current browsers are addressing those desires with each new update.
2. The name means something
Microsoft is the leader in the browser market because its software is installed on Windows and, just as importantly, Internet Explorer is a browser that comes from a trusted source. The same can be said for Mozilla's Firefox, Google's Chrome and Apple's Safari. Companies and consumers tend to deploy browsers from companies they know. RockMelt will have a difficult time addressing that issue.
3. Is it really worth it?
Although Mozilla is gloating that its browser has hit over 1 billion downloads, it took seven years to do it. Microsoft has far more users than that. RockMelt would have to win over users from the millions of people who are already comfortable working with Mozilla and Internet Explorer.
4. What we have is just fine
Maybe it's me, but I think the selection of browsers currently available is just fine. If users want extensions, they can use Firefox. If they want a Microsoft product, they can have Internet Explorer. If they want speed, they can use Chrome. What purpose will RockMelt serve?