Marc Andreessen's RockMelt Could Boost Sales for Facebook

A Forrester Research analyst suggests Marc Andreessen's RockMelt browser could open up new advertising opportunities for Facebook. RockMelt could resemble the Flock social Web browser, helping users toggle back and forth between Facebook, other Web services and the broader Web. However, a Gartner analyst is skeptical about whether the majority of the world's Facebook users need a Facebook-focused browser.

One analyst has said she believes RockMelt, the Web browser serial entrepreneur Marc Andreessen and his engineering colleagues are developing for world-beating social network Facebook, could bring new revenue opportunities for Facebook and its long tail of application developers.

Little is known about RockMelt, although New York Times suggested the browser would store Facebook user names to let users interact with their Facebook friends while they're surfing the Web.

Forrester Research analyst Sheri McLeish said RockMelt could help users toggle back and forth between Facebook, other Web services and the broader Web, keeping users on Facebook as long as possible. That would open up greater online advertising opportunities for Facebook, and could help Facebook's application developers find the broader audience they seek.

"Facebook, along with Twitter, haven't established a way to monetize the popularity of their tools, so I would imagine the browser could open up advertising revenue or other opportunities to charge vendors, resellers or someone else in order to get real estate on the site," McLeish told eWEEK. "There's so many people looking at these sites that it's a shame not to make money off of that. The influence of peer recommendation is huge on purchasing."

For an idea of what else RockMelt could include, it might be wise to look at Flock, a social Web browser based on the open-source Mozilla Firefox browser that streams status updates from Facebook, Twitter and 20 other Web services. Interestingly, Andreessen, who entered the limelight with the Netscape browser and is now a director on Facebook's board, is an investor in Flock.

In a screenshot published by ReadWriteWeb, RockMelt invites users to, "Connect the RockMelt browser to Facebook to interact with your friends, share updates and media, and view your news feed."

That synopsis alone sounds an awful lot like Flock. TechCrunch's Erick Schonfeld published a wish list of features RockMelt might include to entice users, including one-button access to sharing of Web services and launching them from the Web browser.

A Flock spokesperson confirmed to eWEEK that Flock already provides these features, and is working on the Google Gears support.