Zynga Acquires Flock Social Browser

Flock icon
Image via Wikipedia

This is another acquisition that’s just taken place and I really didn’t see this one coming. I was a user of Flock for quite a while when it first came out but I stopped using it around the time they released the final first non-beta version. It’s an interesting experiment in how to integrate so much social content into a browser, but I feel like in the end it doesn’t have great mainstream appeal. Even I was getting overwhelmed with all of the integration and after some time using it I just wanted to go back to the regular website versions of these services for the most part.

It would seem a strange acquisition for Zynga to make at this time. That is until you realise that they have a strategy of putting themselves in a position to be at the forefront of player’s minds as they browse through their optional browser extension.

By partnering with Flock, it seems almost guaranteed that we’ll see tight integration with all of Zynga’s games. Maybe the Flock brand will be replaced with a kind of Zynga branding and use it as a preferred alternative to their browser toolbars.

Regardless, it’s a surprise and it’ll be interesting to see what they do with the company. I should also mention that it’s nice for the guys at Flock as well. They are financially secure now after 6 years of hard development work so it’s hopefully a great step for them to continue.


Digg Version 4 Release Thoughts

Image representing Digg as depicted in CrunchBase
Image via CrunchBase

A few weeks ago I posted what I thought of the beta of Digg 4. The new site was in beta for about a month and overall I liked what they had done with the new, simpler design and focus on following your friends and social news.

Now the site has been introduced fully and the reception has been mixed. While most people seem to like the new aesthetics of the design, there has been some negative feeling among the digg hardcore that too much power has been handed to major publishers and that the site would end up becoming too much like an RSS Feed Reader like Google Reader.

While I do like the ability to follow major publishers and see their stories in my news as well as top stores, I don’t want those publishers to be the only stories on the front page. What separates digg from other news sites in the past has been how offbeat and strange stories and photos can make it to the front page. Digg is different to an RSS feed reader in that it only shows the most popular, most interesting stories rather than everything that’s written, and that’s why mainstream media have a place on the site.

I don’t know if the hardcore users are over-reacting or not but I hope regardless that digg make sure that there is always an equal distribution of mainstream and lesser known and obscure news sources on the front page and adjust their story promotion algorithm accordingly.

I think digg really needs to keep the hardcore happy to be successful but the changes they’ve made could potentially increase the user-base. It’s a balance that they have to find and hopefully they will do.

Moving away from content and back to the site itself, they’ve been experiencing quite major issues and bugs. I’ve experienced many diggs not being counted in the first day or so, page load errors and the official iPhone app is currently completely bare and incompatible with the updated site. Hopefully this changes soon but it’s clearly not a top priority for the team and that’s understandable.

Overall, I stick with my previous comments and really like the design overall. I still would like to see the option to set the default view to the top news page, but Kevin Rose has stated on his own blog that they are listening to feedback and it is one of the things the team is working on. I’m sure the stability problems will go away and future updates will help the hardcore users to feel at ease over the future direction of the site.