Flock Ditching Firefox, Moving To Google Chrome

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Flock, a social-focused browser startup that has raised nearly $30 million in venture funding, has ceased building on top of the open source Firefox browser, say multiple sources. The next version of the Flock browser will be built on Google’s open source Chrome browser platform. The last version of Flock was released in October 2008.

Flock first launched in October 2005 and has had 6 million or so downloads. But it still has less market share than even Netscape, which was discontinued over a year ago.

In the past Flock has said all it needs is a few tens of millions of users to score big dollars from the search engines (each active user generates $5 or so in search engine revenue). But after three years of trying, Flock hasn’t been able to achieve more than a fraction of that number of users.

As to why Flock is leaving Mozilla: sources say that they’ve become frustrated with Mozilla’s lack of attention to Flock’s needs. One source says Flock felt like the “red headed step child of the Mozilla development community.” Sources are also saying that Flock feels that Google Chrome is far easier to work with than Firefox.

One problem is that Chrome isn’t yet cross-platform and works only on Windows machines. But Google is actively working on Mac and Linux versions of Chrome and should release them in the next few months. Right about the time the next version of Flock is released.

Flock hasn’t yet returned a request for comment on this story.

Update: Flock CEO Shawn Hardin responds in the comments:

Mike,

I was responding to your email from only a few hours ago when I saw your article. It’s important to clarify a couple of things. We haven’t ceased development efforts on the Mozilla platform. Our upcoming release of Flock 2.1 is built on the Mozilla platform. Having said that, the browser space is heating up, and we’ve seen a variety of exciting technologies emerge over the last several months that are appealing.

We always have and will continue to make architectural decisions that balance what’s best for our users and what’s best for Flock as a business. This has resulted in a healthy, growing user base and business for Flock, and we expect this to continue in 2009. In fact, with over seven million downloads almost entirely from word of mouth, Flock enjoys a highly satisfied user base with consistently over 92% customer satisfaction, very strong net promoter scores, and an average of four hours of usage per day.

With a continuing focus on user-centered browser innovation, our team is in active research and development on a range of exciting new enhancements to Flock. It is still far too early to comment on anything specific, but we are very excited about this design phase…

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