By Harry McCracken | Tuesday, April 12, 2011 at 12:09 pm
I regret to say that this is almost certainly the last thing I’ll ever write about Flock. There was a time when it was my favorite Web browser. But being based on the Mozilla engine turned to be tricky, and last year Flock started all over again as a Chrome variant–one which was quite different from its earlier incarnation. Even if the move was logical, it was confusing.
In January, social gaming behemoth Zynga snapped up the team behind Flock–but not the browser or the company. (Most of the stories about the buyout, including mine, inaccurately said that Zynga had acquired Flock itself.) When Flock CEO Shawn Hardin’s blog post about the news didn’t say anything about the browser surviving, it was ominous. Today, it’s official: Flock is dead.
The company’s history was twisty from the start–it took it about two years to get to the Mozilla-based version I really liked–and while it did attract millions of users, it never became a mainstream hit. I stopped using it regularly some time ago, but I feel a twinge of sadness that its gone. And I’m sorry that Flock doesn’t seem to be explaining what happened: Its home page just says that “Support for Flock browsers will be discontinued as of April 26th, 2011” and recommends Chrome and Firefox.
(Okay, if the company did explain itself, it would presumably say something like “We couldn’t figure out how to make a business of this.”)
Meanwhile, there’s a new social browser on the block: RockMelt, which is backed by Marc Andreessen, the guy who invented graphical browsers in the first place. It’s based on Chrome and quite similar to Flock; I’m glad it exists but haven’t quite warmed up to it so far.
Hey Flock fans, are any of you reading this? If so, where will you migrate?