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Flock's 'social browser' set to fly

Release date's set for browser designed to closely link with Web services for photo sharing, news and blogging.

Start-up Flock plans to release this fall version 1.0 of its namesake browser, which intermingles online socializing and Web surfing.

Features in Flock, which is built on top of Firefox software, focus on sharing and communication, a common theme of so-called Web 2.0 services. The browser is being designed to integrate closely with online Web services, like Flickr and Delicious.

The free browser has a photo bar that runs across the top. When friends' photo Web sites are updated, the user can click and view pictures via a photo-sharing service. People can also drag and drop images onto the display bar.

Flock with photo bar

Mountain View, Calif.-based Flock was started about 18 months ago with the goal of shaking up a relatively stagnant Web browser world, Chief Strategy Officer Geoffrey Arone said Wednesday.

Mozilla's Firefox browser has gained millions of users, but the end user experience doesn't differ that substantially from older browsers, apart from tabbed browsing, he noted.

"We decided to look at what kind of browser we could build to help people better participate online," Arone said.

The software is linked to popular blogging services, Arone said. That will allow people to read a news story from the browser's RSS (Really Simple Syndication) reader and post a blog entry on that article with a single right click of a mouse.

Other features include integrated search, which lets people scan their desktop and Yahoo Search at the same time. People can share bookmarks and save content on a "Web clipboard" at the bottom of the browser.

"The combined experience (of the enhancements) lends itself to the life cycle of Web consumption--it allows people to discover new content, create new content, consume content and share content," Arone said.

The close integration with Web services is the basis for the company's revenue model as well.

For example, Flock can share revenue with search providers for searches done from Flock, or with sellers when people purchase goods from, Arone explained.

Flock received a flurry of media coverage last fall, when it released an early beta of its browser. But in the process, it garnered some negative feedback from users because the product was not stable enough, Arone said.

The release and subsequent feedback forced the company to revamp its development process and seek more customer input, he said.

"Before we had visionary ideas and lofty ambitions, but revolutions without focus are bedlam," Arone said.