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Browser War 2.0: Netscape founder Marc Andreesen and Facebook plotting to take on Google?

Posted by andreaitis on August 14, 2009

Netscape founder Marc Andreesen is back in the browser business with a new startup called Rockmelt.   Details are rockmelt 8-14-2009 12-02-03 AMscarce so far, but we know Andreesen is regrouping with some familiar faces. Rockmelt co-founders Eric Vishria and Tim Howes worked with Andreesen at  Opsware, a company he co-founded and then sold to Hewlett-Packard for about $1.6 billion.  That was just two years ago.

Last time Andreesen fought the browser wars he lost to Microsoft. This time he’ll take on  Google’s Chrome along with Microsoft’s Internet Explorer, but he won’t be doing it alone.  If we think of this as an episode of Survivor, Andreesen is forming his alliance with Facebook.

A privacy policy on the site, which was removed after a reporter made inquiries to Mr. Vishria, indicates the browser is intended to be coupled somehow with Facebook. Mr. Andreessen serves as a director of Facebook.

The policy says that a person could use a Facebook ID to log into RockMelt, suggesting that the browser may be tailored to display Facebook updates and other features as users browse the Web.

via Netscape Founder Backs New Browser – NYTimes.com

ReadWriteWeb got a look at a very early build, and Facebook Connect is front and center.   This is likely a step towards a pervasive Facebook experience, but we don’t know if it will be client-based, an ever-present navigation bar (expanding on Facebook’s current navbar) or something else that’s completely unexpected.

Why does the world need a Facebook browser? A cynical and sarcastic answer would be “because Facebook is the internet and the internet is Facebook.” It’s a little harder to be too cynical, though, when you look at the team of people who appear to be working on the project. These are people who have done a lot for the open web. Hopefully RockMelt will be a game changer in the same spirit…It might seem outlandish, but desktop software dedicated to serving Facebook and perhaps integration of other sites with Facebook, could go over very well with millions of people.

RockMelt: Netscape’s Andreessen Backing Stealth Facebook Browser via readwriteweb.com

After Facebook’s still-fresh purchase of Friendfeed and the introduction of a soon-to-come Facebook Lite, Mark Zuckerberg is taking no prisoners.  A Facebook-Friendfeed-Rockmelt triumverate could shake up the balance of power.   That’s clearly what they intend to do, with Google directly in their line of sight.

google bullseye logo

Don’t know about you, but I’m ready for this rumble.

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6 Responses to “Browser War 2.0: Netscape founder Marc Andreesen and Facebook plotting to take on Google?”

  1. iskid2astop said

    I am so excited to see this one go down. YAY!!! Silicon Valley machismo.

  2. andreaitis said

    I know, it is pretty exciting. I’m definitely rooting against IE (surprise surprise), but who will you root for?

  3. iskid2astop said

    Gosh. That is a harder question. I’m not sure if this town is big enough for the both of them. As a Google most things user, I would default to Chrome. I realize that Facebook is the future, unless something quicker comes in, so that makes sense too. Firefox is the neglected one in this fight. I wish it were easier to make a browser do the things you want it to do. Ideally, I am rooting for a new look at how we browse the web. Realistically, Chrome. And you? Can we expect a license plate frame declaring “#1 Rockmelt Fan”?

  4. andreaitis said

    Good point about Firefox, they might get lost in the shuffle here. Google makes the Chrome transition very easy, and I am anxious to see Google Wave. That’s what Zuckerberg must be thinking about, how does Facebook combat Google Wave and all the other ways Google’s already hooked us. I want to see how this plays out a bit before choosing sides. So, no new license plate just yet but I might start humming ‘I Stop the World and Rockmelt with You.”

  5. iskid2astop said

    There is potential for people to be using a couple of different browsers, depending on what they are doing. Rockmelt for Facebook, Chrome for productivity and emails, and Firefox for browsing, clipping, and sharing. There would be much protesting, but I could see it becoming the status quo.

  6. Don’t you ever find this all just a little bit scary — that these companies control information as a commodity and manage our access to our own facts about ourselves? And we’re the suckers who can’t wait to post our weekend beach photos to our profile, and then wonder why we keep getting spammed with ads for sun-block and swim-wear?

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