The third version of Flock, the popular social media centric browser is in beta. Well, not just an ordinary beta. This time around, it is based on Chromium, the Open Source implementation of Google’s Chrome browser. This is a very interesting and important development with regards to Firefox which had always been the base for Flock since it first debuted back in 2007.
The latest beta release spots some very impressive features such as real time search of what your friends are talking about concerning your search query and the easy way in which URLs can be shared and discussed with friends on the various social networks.
This move away from Firefox comes right after recent news that the netbook edition of Ubuntu 10.10 will have Chromium as the default web browser, also replacing Firefox. Other Linux distros like Lubuntu also ship with Chromium as the default browser. Hitherto, Firefox had had absolute exclusivity on Linux desktops. Now all that seems to be changing, albeit gradually.
Looking at these developments, one cannot help but ask the question, is Firefox an endangered browser? Better still, has the phenomenal growth of Firefox become its own Achilles’ heel? Has the browser grown too ‘fat’ such that it is becoming obese? Only time will give answers to these questions and more.
But one thing remains certain, unless the Mozilla Foundation restructures the entire Firefox development process, together with its massive ecosystem (especially the plugins), the Fox will have a bleak future. The long time strength of Firefox, being its addons, is also being eaten up by Chrome at an alarming rate.
There have been suggestions as to how Firefox could maintain its position as the second most used browser, including the Mozilla Foundation having to fork the browser itself to compete head on with Chrome. Also a point made by ZDNet’s Dana Blankenhorn resonates loudly with the current way addons are handled by the Foundation. He states
“While Firefox acts like a typical open source project, listing whatever comes in, working with everyone, Chrome acts more like a proprietary outfit, strategically. This is a key difference between Google and most open source companies. Most are looking to build an ecosystem however they can get one. Google can be more careful.”
I’d not love to read someday how Firefox was once a formidable browser. It has played an important role in shaping the browser market, this is not the time to see the beginning of its decline.