Marc Andreessen, co-founder of Netscape, has put together a team of engineers to release a new web browser called RockMelt. Taking its cue from Flock, this new browser’s claim to fame is social networking integration. If that’s not “Me too” enough for you, you can’t even download it without receiving an invite directly from RockMelt or from a friend via Facebook. It just screams “Too cool for school.”

Based on Google’s Chrome, RockMelt offers questionable utility. Instead of just going to your Facebook or Twitter tab, those services are constantly taking up space as sidebars. I suppose that some will find this convenient, but I find it more annoying than anything else. Interestingly, it appears to work with Chrome extensions, but I wouldn’t be surprised if there is the possibility of compatibility issues. That, however, brings me to this question: Wouldn’t this be better as an extension instead of a completely different browser? It might need some retooling, but I’ll bet you could accomplish just about everything that RockMelt does without needing a separate installation.

Competition is good, but fragmentation is bad. We need a handful of browsers to compete against each other, but we don’t need a hundred different versions of the same browser doing slightly different things. I have enough issues with compatibility in the big-name browsers. I don’t need to start worrying about the compatibility of some offshoot browser.

What do you think about RockMelt? Am I missing something? Let me know by dropping a note in the comment section of this post.

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