Flock Disappoints

October 21, 2005

Like a lot of people, I have been waiting to get my hands on Flock as I’ve been following the hype and buzz about the latest browser. Flock, which bills itself as a social browser, is built on top of the Mozilla/Firefox code base. People that had seen it were raving about it and so I was excited to get an email yesterday that I could go ahead and download it before it became generally available today.

So I rush and download the browser to see what the big deal is all about. I have to tell you it was disappointing. I guess I’m missing the magic that everyone is seeing here but I thought this was basically Firefox with some extensions. There is built in support for Flickr, del.icio.us and Technorati and a couple of bells and whistles that are supposed to amaze. I have Firefox extensions for most of those things.

The first issue I have is the ‘Import Wizard’ during installation. Since it’s built on Mozilla, it will let you import your browser data (bookmarks, cookies, passwords, etc) from IE, Opera and Netscape but not Firefox, which happens to be my default browser. I think this is a major issue.

Once installed and running, Flock looks like Firefox with a nice theme that has rounded corners. There is built-in support for blogging and while this is interesting, I don’t think this is any groundbreaking. There is built-in support for WordPress, TypePad and Blogger but you better not have 2 different blogs with the same name. The Flickr topbar in the blog tool is nice but it only shows you your public photos and won’t let you blog your private pictures. The Technorati tagging feature is also nice but I have a couple of WordPress plugins that allow me to do just that and so it’s not groundbreaking.

Shelf is another nice feature that I already have in Firefox with extensions. Shelf is essentially a scratchpad where you can drag links, images, text, etc and then use it in other places like blogs, etc. The cool thing was that you could highlight some text and drag it over to the shelf to save it.

As Flock is built on top of Mozilla, most of the Firefox extensions should work with a minor tweak to the install.rdf file. There are a few extensions available for Flock and I was glad to see Adblock was one of them.

The auto-subscribe to feeds feature is interesting but you can’t import your OPML files into a collection and so you’d have to surf to all the blogs you read and add them manually. I think I’ll stick with FeedDemon.

All in all, Flock is a decent browser that has potential. Firefox + extensions equals almost all of the functionality of Flock but the integration of all those features into one browser is nice, specially since they all play together. I guess I bought into all the hype and reality was a little disappointing. I know Flock is still at v0.5 and so I will stay tuned for what’s next from the people at Flock.

Flock, Firefox, FeedDemon, Flickr, del.icio.us, Technorati

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7 Responses to “Flock Disappoints”

  1. My assessment is pretty much the same as yours, though it looks like you spent a lot more time playing with it. It’s still early, so I’ll give it a few more releases to wow me. I hope it does fine a niche…

  2. Considering its not even a beta ……. I am keeping my fingers crossed

  3. Niels said

    What’s that Firefox Shelf plugin your’e talking about? and what other plugins are you using that pretty much give Firefox Flock’s capabilities?

  4. One thing. Firefox with just a few extensions seems very slow for me. Flock seems to run much faster. So I like to compare Firefox w/o extensions to Flock and then Flock looks real good.

    Erik

  5. Olivier Ziller said

    are you talking about the scrapbook extension?

  6. Hi Niels. I am talking about the ScrapBook extension that’s available at http://amb.vis.ne.jp/mozilla/scrapbook/.

  7. You see it in a clever way. BUT you forget to highlight that Flock is the first attempt that allows features integration. That’s the point.

    I see in Flock (or in its successors) lots of promises.

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