RockMelt is a new web browser (like Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari or Google Chrome are browsers).
The company making it is backed by Marc Andreesen, the man behind Netscape, one of the earliest web browsers.
Technically speaking RockMelt isnt a completely new web browser but a new implementation of existing web browser technology: it is built on Chromium (which also is what Google Chrome is built on) which in turn uses the WebKit technology (which underlies other popular web browsers, like Safari).
Whats Special About RockMelt?
RockMelt is a social browser. That is, the functionality to share things online via Facebook or Twitter and to communicate with your friends there is baked into the browser.
On the left side you can see thumbnails of your Facebook friends currently online. Hold your mouse over a thumbnail and see their latest status updates or initiate a chat with them.
On the right, links to your social sites and news streams.
Why Are RockMelts Social Features Special?
Theyre not, really. Another browser, Flock, has been working on this and doing this for years " albeit a bit different.
Likewise, basically any other browser can be or become a social browser by downloading extra plugins, extensions or toolbars " or simply by using bookmarks which help you post and share to social sites.
The most newsworthy part of the RockMelt release is the name of Marc Andreesen attached to it.
Social Web Surfing
More than 10 years ago the idea of social surfing " back then literally surfing together -- already existed. The technology usually relied on downloading extra technology like a Java applet or a browser plugin. But having to downloads extras is a barrier for more users.
Todays social surfing model is about sharing in (near) real time via sites like Facebook and Twitter. The technology on those sites and on web sites facilitating them is a simple link, button, or bookmark to click. A very low barrier to entry for (new) users.
The question then is; what problem do social browsers like Flock and RockMelt solve?
To the uninitiated theyre a huge barrier: switching browsers is not something people do easily. On the other hand, anyone on Facebook or Twitter long enough to feel the need to expand on social technology will have become comfortable enough with links, buttons and bookmarks to easily post anything to any social site in no time.
So those that need it most " new users " are the least likely to install the browser while those that can, wont.
What This Means To You
Theres no need to call your web designer and figure out how your web site looks on this new browser. For one, if your site looks and works good on Safari or Google Chrome, RockMelt wont cause a problem. And secondly " it will be a long while before RockMelt will be measurable in figures that matter.
Likewise theres no reason to try to jump on any social browser bandwagon. The web is social these days and as long as you encourage and facilitate that by making it easy to share whatever it is youre doing or selling, youre doing your job.
Of course innovative ways to target RockMelt users stay on the table. RockMelt users can be expected to be happy to try new things, clearly have a social circle to share things with, and by checking if a visitor is using RockMelt you could target special messages or deals at them.
Got questions? Have an idea how browsers like RockMelt can be leveraged as a sales channel? Share in the comments!