Did RockMelt release its new socialized browser to a wide audience too soon? Possibly.
Despite an infestation of first-day bugs, does RockMelt shine a light into the future, or mark a milestone toward a browser revolution? Possibly.
Enough equivocations. My own first day with RockMelt was skewered with frustrations and false starts. The “Edges” (left and right persistent sidebars that contain Facebook friends, RSS feeds, and social sharing) didn’t work at all for half the day. Importing bookmarks from Google Chrome half-worked (folder yes; bookmark bar no). Twitter was non-existent, either as a stream or sharing option, until mid-afternoon. I restarted the app multiple times on three different computers, trying for joy. RockMelt’s twitter stream was plush with apologies and reassurances that the team was spraying bugs, scrambling heroically to keep the trains moving during the product’s first rush hour.
The main RockMelt differentiator is this: instead of browsing to your social circles, you carry your social world with you everywhere. It’s like a stay-at-home mobile environment. If the concept gets any sort of mainstream exposure, the paradigm will appeal to folks who will never install Chrome of Firefox plug-ins that accomplish RockMelt’s basic strategy.
I like it. I like having my browsing universe circumscribed by friends. The sharing is no better than I get from Chromed Bird and other plug-ins, but it feels fresh and convenient. Ask me if I care about privacy hand-wringing that accompanies any server-side storage of personal info. Hell no, I don’t.
My RockMelt experience survived a bumpy first day, and I’ll be using it tomorrow.