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Flock, the first social media web browser has announced that it will be shutting down effective April 26, 2011. Found by Alexia Tsotsis at Techcrunch, the Flock team posted an, “official end of support notice” today. The Flock team was acquired by Zynga earlier this year. Flock is suggesting that users immediately download Google Chrome or Firefox to make sure they stay current with security patches and updates.
Here’s the posted notice, “Support for Flock browsers will be discontinued as of April 26th, 2011. We would like to thank our loyal users around the world for their support, and we encourage the Flock community to migrate in the coming weeks to one of the recommended web browsers listed below.”
I wrote about Flock many times, even offering some specific suggestions on how they could grow back in 2009. Flock targeted social media experts and ninjas and it seemed that group was never big enough to get Flock higher up in the sky. You can even read my 2nd interview on CN with Flock co-founder Geoffrey Arone from way back in late 2006.
I think Zynga picked up a bright team — I found all of my conversations with the Flock team to be educational and I always walked away learning something new about the industry.
It will be interesting to see what learnings new social media browser RockMelt takes from Flock’s history.
Last night I wrote about the new 2.5 release of the Flock social browser. We know that Flock targets the over-sharing crowd but is that in itself enough to make the company very successful? I started to think about how Flock could gain more mainstream acceptance and help push Flock further along in the browser wars. What follows is my suggestion for the company.
Flock should develop a “lite” or “simple” version of their browser. Currently their browser can be overwhelming to the average mainstream Internet user and it frankly probably scares a lot of people away after the initial load. What I’d like to see are three new “lite” versions:
- Flock with Twitter panel
- Flock with Facebook panel
- Flock with Twitter and Facebook panels
That’s it. No MySpace, no Bebo, no Flickr, none of it. Just a browser that includes a sidebar for Twitter and/or Facebook. There are plenty of new social desktop applications like Tweetdeck but these also focus on the over sharing crowd.
Now imagine a browser that takes the simple Twitter.com interface plus a browser and combines them together. Flock 2.5 allows you to easily drag-and-drop items from the browser to Twitter/Facebook and that functionality should remain. That’s what I think Flock Lite should be. Nice and simple which will appeal to the mainstream, average Facebook/Twitter user. I’d also like to see an installation wizard that makes setting up the browser amazingly easy. Over time Flock can move the user to the full Flock browser.
We’ve written about the Flock social browser a good number of times here at CN including the launch of the 2.0 version. Tonight’s launch of the Flock 2.5 release builds upon the “socialness” of the previous releases.
What I found most interesting in the new Flock release is the ability to drag-and-drop items from one network to another. If you want to share a photo from Flickr to your friends on Twitter, you can just drag the photo to the Twitter window and a message will be created with a link to the image. The Twitter integration continues with the ability to save searches into a sidebar for each viewing. It’s almost as if Flock has integrated a mini-desktop app (e.g. tweetdeck) with the full browser functionality.
The new “Flockcast” functionality is also a great addition. Flockcast allows you to broadcast your items to multiple networks. If you share a Flickr photo, you can select to share the item to Facebook as well. Flock says this can also help bloggers because content uploaded to a blog via Flock can be broadcast to multiple networks at once using the Flockcast option.
Flock has also announced that it has integrated Bebo into the browser. Flock self-reports that the browser is used in over 14,000 cities and over 192 countries and territories.
Lastly the new Flock browser has integrated Facebook chat so you can converse with your Facebook friends directly from the browser. The drag-and-drop functionality I noted above is also available with the Facebook chat option.
The updates should be well received by loyal Flock users as they increase the ability to share content along with usability improvements that should increase overall usage.
Chris Nuttall at the Financial Times has commentary from CEO Shawn Hardin.
So imagine this… it’s Valentine’s day and you are trying to figure out what to get that special someone (e.g. your sweet thing, your baby momma, baby daddy, cutiepie). Most people usually get lingerie, chocolates, roses, flowers, a nice card, bottle of wine and a movie, etc.
The Flock browser has launched an interesting marketing effort today. They want you to skip all of those things and instead give your sweetie a Flock browser. Flock marketing VP Dan Burkhart notes in a blog post, "This Valentine’s Day, we’d like you to turn your friends on to the browser that helps put people together. Instead of handing off an unoriginal box of chocolates, tell the people you care about to download Flock and you’ll be turning them on to a browser that inspires people to stay connected with the friends and things they care about most in their lives. Take it a step further and offer a personal tutorial to show this person how to get their accounts set up, and voila – you’ll find that your Valentine will be impressed and amazed by what a guru you are."
Somehow I am thinking if you show up with a usb key with a demo video and a Flock installation, you might head home early.
It will be interesting to hear from Dan on how the campaign went – since they create customized versions, it might be neat to create a valentine’s day edition where you can create a pre-set layout with images, videos, etc. I give Dan much credit for trying out the idea!
Just a month after the public launch of the Flock 2.0 browser, Flock has announced the addition of OpenID to the Flock 2.0 browser today. I’ve been saying for a long time that if OpenID wants to succeed, they have to get it into the browser so when you hit a site that offers OpenID login, it could be as close to seamless as possible.
MySpace, Flock and Vidoop jointly developed OpenID for Flock which should help the Flock browser gain additional user adoption. OpenID for Flock is now available to all Flock 2.0 users as an alpha extension — my hope is that it becomes part of the default install over time. The companies note, "The MySpace, Flock and Vidoop (OpenID) implementation is a reference design released as open source under GPL, and as such, modifications by developers will be brought together and shared with the wider open source developer community."
Perhaps today’s announcement will push the other major browsers (IE, FF, Safari, Opera, etc.) to start looking at implementing OpenID into the browser as well. I am not talking about an extension or plugin, but rather a full integrated environment. If OpenID is going to gain in popularity and usability, it’s critical that using an OpenID login as easy as possible.
With all of the talk over the last few days about Facebook Connect, it sure does look like eventually we will have an old-style Western duel setup. Facebook Connect vs. OpenID – let’s get it on!
Flock has announced that they have moved the 2.0 version of their social browser into full public release tonight. Flock initially launched the 2.0 browser in beta back in June. Since then they have added a variety of customized installations including German and fashion versions.
The major updates in the Flock 2.0 release include MySpace integration, Media RSS accessibility. The company also notes that the new version is based on Firefox 3 and has a host of improvements and users should find memory management much improved over the 1.0 release.
Flock VP of Marketing & Business Development Dan Burkhart took me through the new version last week and shared some download stats. To-date there has been 6 million downloads and 3.6 million of the total are from the 1.0 release. I asked Dan who is their target user and he replied that the target user utilizes 2 or more social services and if you do use 2 or more, you will see a benefit by using Flock.
Dan and I also discussed the ad downturn that might be approaching and he noted that the current Flock monetization is double the plan numbers. He also pointed to their Series D raise from 2 months ago of $15 million.
The big push for the company now is the college market. Dan says that the college market could prove very beneficial for Flock as most students are using multiple social services.
I’ve been using the Flock version launching tonight for the last week and I see a performance improvement over the prior versions. Although on my Pentium 4 desktop, I still find it lags behind IE and FF in load times and certainly behind Chrome. Flock reminds me of a new couch. At first it’s hard and a bit uncomfortable but after you sit on it a few times, you find the sweet spot and life is grand. Flock requires a lot of setup but once it’s customized to your needs, it works well. The key for Flock is figuring out how to get users to their sweet spot as quick as possible.
Social browser Flock has announced the launch of a new, customized version of their browser today. The new version is named Gloss and brings together Flock’s browser technology with fashion and entertainment content from over 35 sources. Glam Media, who yesterday announced the launch of their platform, is one of the launch partners. Other content providers include: Glamour, The Budget Fashionista, TMZ, Cosmo, DesignerApparel, PopSugar and others.
Within the Flock Gloss browser, there are news feeds and pre-set favorites along with a pink design (see below). My guess is that we will see a variety of these customized versions from Flock this year as they try to gain market share in the browser market.