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The Flock backlash

It's gearing up. After a quick burst of hype, culminating in its official Web 2.0 coming out, the critics are lining up to take shots at the new Firefox-based "social browser'' by Palo Alto start-up Flock (which we profiled here.) In a post titled "Flock Never Stood A Chance,'' Scrivs over at Whitespace is already calling game-over for the still-in-beta Flock, asserting that it's trying to solve a non-existent problem.

"Flock never stood a chance in replacing Firefox as the default browswer of the non-IE crowd or even have a chance of penetrating any markets,'' he said "I know it's still early in the life of Flock, but where's all the positive buzz now that it's available to download?''

Flock founder Bart Decrem jumped to the product's defense in the comments section: "We believe that the web has evolved, the browser experience hasn't, and there's therefore a ton of room for innovation. In particular, we believe that there's a ton of work to do in building a web browser that integrates the social and two-way aspects of the web. We believe that there *is* a big problem to be solved: talking back to the web (blogging, even sharing pictures) is a royal pain, and the browser has not lived up to the original vision of Tim Berners Lee in this regards.''

Flock's Chris Messina and Scrivs pick up the debate here.

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Hi Michael, thanks for a balanced story. The links to my and Chris' comments are much appreciated. In summary I would say this: we're chosing to operate in the open source tradition, get our code out there very early, and start a dialog with our potential users. Scrivs headline is a bit over the top, and he's awfully quick to leap to conclusions. What we're trying is quite different from what other web browsers are doing, and I'm sure we'll make a ton of mistakes along the way - but hopefully people will give us some credit for experimenting, innovating, and embarking on this journey. And thanks to all the folks who are giving us constructive feedback.

bart on November 2, 2005 7:12 PM
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Bart, I'm glad to hear your humble tone. I agree with the other posters who say you're trying to solve a problem that doesn't exist. That's my first problem. My second problem is that you'll be duped by IE, Firefox, et. al. You won't be bought, because nothing you're doing right now is that innovative or exclusive. If you get any traction, the other browsers will simply incorporate your features. . .there's no barrier to adoption. Third, realize that there's a BIG "if" there, as in, if you get any traction. Your market is too small, your offering too narrow. This may sound harsh, but truth be told: spend more time innovating, and less time talking. Or at least, if you talk, adopt a more humble tone. Until you guys really begin to revolutionize the web, you need to be smarter, more humble, and more open. It's about setting expectations and, more important, exceeding them. There is no credit (or revenue) given for experimenting or "embarking on a journey." The market rules. Find one.

Gash on November 2, 2005 9:57 PM
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No doubt folks @ Flock deserve an appreciation for trying to enhance the browsing experience but there absolutely is no question regarding its dismal performance in beta stage.
I'm even utterly disappointed by the way they receive feedback. I've tried flock on the day it was released and submitted nearly 5 - 6 or perhaps more bugs/feedback requests but have not heard back from them so far. Not that they'd have to reply to me but atleast a automated reply with a tracking number for the bug would have helped.
Anyhow, I did not want to spend more time trying it out and it is off my system now and do not plan on getting it back. I'm happy with Firefox on one and Opera on my other system.


Startups.in on November 2, 2005 10:03 PM
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I was at the recent Web2.0, and given that our little start-up was about to release a browser as well, and given that we had come over from Ireland to see what was going on, I was a bit daunted and dismayed by the Flock excitement. Now that Flock bashing has become as fashionable as Flock hype was, I feel obliged to offer some support to the beleagured Flocksters. We are also trying to innovate around the browser and believe there is much that Firefox, Opera et al. don't address. Why constrain imaginations and insights? Time, and many millions of people who don't have their fingers quite so firmly on the pulse of the zeitgeist, will be the judge and that's just as it should be.

Julian Ellison on November 3, 2005 1:58 AM
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Leave the market analysis to the market analysts. I don't give a hoot about penetration or revenue plans; I just enjoy using new, innovative software. Innovation is an intangible market driver. You can't draw a graph mapping innovation against market share. You can't tell how long it will take for your innovative software to make it big - if ever.

I'm using Flock and I'm getting a buzz out of it. And I'm a hardcore MS fan who never considered using Firefox just because the mob hoisted it on their collective shoulders. That's the power of innovation.

laurence timms on November 3, 2005 7:29 AM
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Why doesn't Flock work with the Mozilla Foundation to make their "innovations" happen?

Why are they having to build yet another browser when it's clear that folks are happy with Firefox, Opera, Safari and maybe even IE 7?

Not very interesting and the name Flock is terrible too. Nothing to see here.

rick on November 3, 2005 12:42 PM
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For what it's worth, I would argue that the attack on Flock is part of a larger trend going right now -- backlash on the whole Web 2.0 meme.

A few days back, I wrote a post relevant to the topic called, "Bubbles, backlash and grim reapers."

If it is in your realm of interest, check it out: http://thenetworkgarden.blogs.com/weblog/2005/10/bubbles_backlas.html

Mark Sigal on November 4, 2005 10:53 AM
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For what it's worth, I would argue that the attack on Flock is part of a larger trend going right now -- backlash on the whole Web 2.0 meme.

A few days back, I wrote a post relevant to the topic called, "Bubbles, backlash and grim reapers."

Mark Sigal on November 4, 2005 10:54 AM
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Sorry the URL got parsed on the article link to Bubbles, backlash and grim reapers: http://thenetworkgarden.blogs.com/weblog/2005/10/bubbles_backlas.html

Mark Sigal on November 4, 2005 10:55 AM
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I like the idea behind Flock.

Yes, as a beta it crashes, it has bugs, it needs work. But, hello it's a beta. I mean, it's at least as stable as the beta of Firefox I've got.

But the idea is good, really good. Pooh on those who say it's not innovative. I love the blog and flickr integration. Yes, it's a blog-friendly Firefox, but I like it.

What's the monetization model though? How will they make money on it?

Robyn on November 7, 2005 5:24 PM
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As much as Flock rocks, there are small problems. *cough* eatting megs of memory *cough*

Art on August 24, 2006 6:04 AM
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