Mike Arrington raves (yet again) about the Flock Browser at TechCrunch with word that the company has launched a public beta version, so I thought I’d give it a try again (I’d previously played with the developer version).
I’m still not all that impressed.
Sure, it’s a whole lot better than the developer version (which is fair enough), but unlike Mike who claims that it’s now his browser of choice, I just don’t see any reason, as yet, to switch from Firefox.
There is some good in the beta release of the Flock browser, which is more than I can say for earlier releases. It’s fairly clear that Flock have done a deal with Yahoo! which is probably where their business model indicates revenue (remember that Mozilla gets paid a percentage of ad clicks in a similar way to Adsense (but not the same way) for every person who searches Google), and this means very, very nice integration with Flickr and Del.icio.us. The ability to drag stuff into Flickr is a very, very nice touch. It’s a shame in a way that Yahoo! doesn’t roll out these sorts of tools themselves (please, please, I want a tool like Picasa from which I can upload pics to Flickr!). I didn’t play with the Del.icio.us integration because I don’t really use the service that much, but it certainly looks nice.
It’s still not as quick as Firefox itself, at least from my playing with it. I went to a number of sites that wouldn’t have been cached in Firefox to test, it feels slower, but it could just be my perception of it.
And then there is the blogging tool, which is apparently one of Flocks big selling points. It’s very, very basic I’m afraid. Sure, if you want a quick blogging tool you’ll find it ok, mainly if you don’t know about other blogging tools in the market. But compare it to BlogDesk or even Performancing, it’s a very poor second. No image editing, no Technorati tags, no ability to even add a category to your blog post. For all but the most feeble of bloggers, this isn’t going to be useful.
As a business:
As a business idea though, I can see what Flock is doing now. When I first wrote about these guys at The Blog Herald last year, I couldn’t see where they could make money, but of course since then the world has discovered that search firms will pay you money to direct users to their sites (ala Mozilla and Google) on a rev share basis based on ad click thrus. The question of course then becomes: is the long tail long enough for Flock to make a decent quid and make their VC people happy? Time will tell, but at this stage I’ll probably say yes. There is a market for this, and if they go on to improve the browser by their official 1.0 launch, they should be able to get enough users to make a decent buck or two, but on this release, they’ve still got some work ahead of them.