I’ve been playing with the Flock browser for about two weeks now and I have to say that I really like it. As a Firefox user, the look and feel is nearly identical so I don’t have to learn a new set of menus and shortcuts. The top menu bar is a bit busy and I haven’t been able to get the blog editor to work with my self-hosted WordPress install, but there is one killer feature that I love and that’s the “People Sidebar” feature. It basically gives you a persistent sidebar with updates from Facebook, Twitter, or Flickr. Over time, I expect them to increase the number of services that I can track in my sidebar and that will make it even more useful.
As I mentioned in an earlier post, persistent sidebars increase the way in which I consume services. Having the ability to update my Facebook status directly from the sidebar, as well as the ability to track my News Feed without logging into Facebook has markedly increased the frequency with which I update my own status and the frequency with which I go back to Facebook due to a prompt in my sidebar.
I don’t know how large the market opportunity is for Flock – Mozilla is doing around $65 million a year in search ad revenue. I don’t see Flock becoming as ubiquitous as Mozilla in the near-term, so it will be interesting to see whether the company can come up with any clever twists to their business model.
Also, having an integrated sidebar capable of tracking multiple services makes a single-service sidebar a lot less useful to me.