With all the curent debate about the browser wars and Firefox versus Internet Explorer, some of the smaller, more innovative browsers on the market have struggled somewhat to win the column inches they so clearly deserve. And no, I’m not talking about the ‘so Scandanavianally good it’s just boring’ Opera.
The two web browsers which have grabbed my attention come from the same root. Both Flock and Songbird are based on the Mozilla browser and are therefore cousins of the ever-more-popular Firefox. From there, however, the similarities end. Flock is based on the very futuristic concept of the ‘social browser’, or perhaps that should be ‘internet interactor’. The whole idea behind this smart all-rounder is that you use one program to do everything.
For example: to write a blog post with Firefox, you open your Blogger homepage and write a blog post. Flock cuts out the middleman and lets you write your blog post within the browser without ever having to connect with Blogger. The program offers a similarly seamless experience with other socially connected sites, such as Flickr, PhotoBucket, WordPress and more.
Songbird, despite the avian link, is very much a different breed of browser. While still very much in its infancy, Songbird promises to be the ultimate browser for music lovers, combining as it does a complete iTunes style media player with a full Firefox-based web browser. Calling itself the world’s first fully-fledged (oof!) ‘web player’, Songbird aims to blend the concept of media player and web browser into one.
With the advent of PodCasts, videoCasts, MP3 sites and more, there is certainly room in the market for a ‘web player’ like Songbird, capable of seamlessly playing, saving and subscribing to multimedia content in any webpage you visit. Songbird can also import your iTunes library and connects well with several social-media-mashups such as the phenomenal Last.fm.
Firefox is without doubt the best of the ‘big two’, currently locked in battle. But it should watch out: the more it encourages IE users to embrace change and take the plunge, the more it opens up the market to potential competitors. Personally, I hope that in a year or so, I’ll be using a fully-functional edition of Songbird as my main browser. Watch this space for a full review when it eventually launches a full release.