No, its not really a new browser.
Flock brilliantly chose to use the Firefox engine (Gecko engine). Flock is an open source browser (like Camino for the Mac) built by some talented guys in Palo Alto, some of which were part of the Mozilla foundation.
They keep the gecko layout engine. Its just the chrome they mess with.
So think about some of the things that really open the web up in the world of Web 2.0.
- Come To Me Web. RSS Syndication
- The tagging phenomon popularized by flickr
- The social bookmarking popularized by delicious
- building blogs
- locating blogs
Safari 2.0 made a step in that direction by making RSS subscriptions much easier. Flock appears to go much further.
Here are some of it features:
- sharing and tagging bookmarks. They have a partnership with delicious. They include a way to see these in what they call "bread crumbs". Bad name. More like tagged bookmarks.
- Watching lists of users and being notified as pages are bookmarked
- Blog tool that allows you to drag and drop elements from pages you surf into a shelf that you can later compose into a blog using the common blog publishing tools
- Ability to grab snippets and drop them as blockquotes in blogs.
- Flickr integration for photo sharing and dropping into blogs directly
Remember the early desktop operating systems? Did not even have disk fragmenters. Lots of utilities that are standard in the desktop OS now was once built as a little tool that got incorporated later into the OS. Is this where browsers will head? We could have stability on the layout engine (IE, Gecko, Safari being the main ones to consider) but have new browser wars that compete on functionality not just around being able to display a page and support richness.
Will IE7 have some of these concepts or did they miss the boat?
Extensions to Firefox can do some of this, but really who outside of geekdom actually installs firefox plugins or has used greasemonkey? And how many times has firefox crashed due to rogue extensions. Its seems natural that browsers will incorporate what the extensions do and will grow like desktop operating systems did.
Google has a secret Firefox project going. Aaron Boodman who built greasemonkey is working on that team. Its been rumored that google is going to unleash a new web os based on Firefox. Is it like Flock?
In an earlier post on the Come To Me Web there was some discussion about how do you get folks to adopt the power of Web 2.0. I think Flock has possibly hit on the right way to do this. The browser can be the On-Ramp for Web 2.0.
More information at ajaxian, technocrunch, wired, flock, rolandtanglao, barcamp.