When it was first introduced in late 2010, the Rockmelt social browser seemed like a next step -- instead of connecting with friends on social sites, users could connect with them directly through the browser. Rockmelt was “a browser,” co-founder Eric Vishria said at the time, “that does more than just navigate pages.” But next steps can go in unforeseen directions, and the company announced this week that it will soon "end-of-life" its social browser.  

The social browser’s features included chatting/sharing lists of online friends on either side of the browser screen, and icons for sites and social networks that displayed the frequency with which they had been updated since the most recent viewing.

Keeping Up with Chromium

The company began with a stellar list of backers that included an Apple board member, a former CEO of Intuit, and a VMware co-founder, as well as such well-known VC firms as Accel Partners, Andreessen Horowitz and Khosla Ventures.

But being a browser company is not the easiest path. On its corporate blog, co-founder Tim Howes and Eric Vishria wrote that “distributing a desktop browser is hard and expensive (especially if you don’t have an operating system or the world’s most trafficked website to promote it.)”

Other problems, Rockmelt said, included having to spend as much as half of its time “keeping up with Chromium, (the open source foundation of Chrome, upon which Rockmelt is based.)” Originally, the company said it only needed about 10 percent of its time to do so.

Web Site, Mobile Apps

But, Rockmelt said, all has not been in vain. “Logging into browsers, interacting with friends, and sharing to social networks straight from the browser are all features we pioneered that are now in Chrome, Firefox, and others,” it boasted. For the browser, it’s “end-of-life” moment, with no more support or updates, comes within the next few months, and the company said it will give notice so that users have some time to move bookmarks and the like.

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Rockmelt iOS apps

What now? Rockmelt “happily” recommends the Chrome browser as a replacement, and has launched an invite-only for its Rockmelt for Web endeavor. Rockmelt for Web, a website, displays content feeds from favorite sites, online social circles and random material, in a social context. The company has also released similar functionality in an iOS app for iPad and iPhone, and an Android version is planned.