Flock, the "social web browser" built on top of Mozilla's Firefox, has remained somewhat of a niche product despite its integrations with the most popular social networking sites on the web. Although its features should have made it a top product in our Facebook and Twitter-obsessed age, it has clearly remained on the sidelines of the web browser market.
Today, Flock is trying a new strategy. The company plans to extend itself beyond the "social" niche by trying to find a home in an entirely different one: the Hispanic web. To tap into this new audience, Flock is releasing a Spanish-language web browser in partnership with Univision Interactive Media, the top Spanish-language media company in the U.S.
Flock's Univision-Branded Browser
According to Flock's VP of Business Development and Marketing, Dan Burkhart, there are now more than 22 million Hispanics online and the market's growth will continue to outpace that of the English-speaking web for the foreseeable future. Although social networking sites have released Spanish-language versions - for example, latino.myspace.com - he notes that there are "few if any social enabling applications that have made the investment to serve this important market." The Hispanic audience also actively engages in social networking activities. More than 40% visit sites like Facebook, MySpace and Twitter on a daily basis. Thanks to Flock's built-in social networking features, says Burkhart, that audience can now stay connected to those sites and to popular content from Univision.com.
In order to promote the product to the Hispanic web audience, the homepage of Univision.com will feature a large display ad touting the browser. In addition, there will be other display ads across the Univision network as well as pre-roll trailers inserted into video content. Next year, the company will pursue other offline channels to promote the Spanish version of Flock, too.
As with the specialized versions of Flock that have been released in the past, such as the green "Eco Edition" and the fashionable "Gloss Edition," this new Univision-branded version will offer favorite bookmarks, RSS feeds, media streams of popular Univision links, videos, and photos and persistent links to other areas of Univision.com. It will also come with a default homepage tab that takes you right to the Univision homepage.
However, the company is quick to point out that this new version is different from the Eco and Gloss editions of the browser, both of which are no longer supported. While those versions were clever marketing gimmicks at the time - the Eco edition was released on Earth Day, for instance - neither were able to attract a wide audience. That's because they didn't have sizeable distribution partners, says Burkhart. "By partnering with Univision, who has been the most visited Spanish language website for many years running, we have a dedicated partner who is committed to ensuring that the Univision Edition of Flock is distributed aggressively."
Will the Hispanic Web Market Help Flock Succeed?
It will be interesting to see how Flock does among the Spanish-speaking audience, especially because the browser itself is still the same under the hood. Although it will feature Univision content, Spanish-language menus and soon, a full Spanish-language installer, it's not a new product. It's still the same Flock. And that was the problem that most people had with it in the first place.
Earlier this year, when we asked the question: "why don't you love Flock?" we received over 100 comments in response. For many people the browser's interface was too busy and cluttered, making them feel overloaded with information. Others claimed that Flock was a resource hog and prone to bugs and crashes. And still others preferred Webkit-built browsers like Safari and Chrome, both of which are known for their speed.
The question now is whether or not these same complaints will put off the Hispanic audience, too, or if they will overlook these issues because the browser so uniquely caters to their needs. Only time will tell how well Univision's marketing push succeeds, but ultimately, if Flock can't address its shortcomings in some way, it won't work for any audience, no matter what language they speak.
The Spanish version of Flock is available for download now at flock.univision.com.