Web & communication software

FarmVille developer Zynga buys social browser Flock

Zynga, the company behind popular Facebook games such as FarmVille and Mafia Wars, has acquired Flock, which develops a Web browser fine-tuned for real-time social networking data feeds.

Terms of the deal, announced on Flock’s blog on Wednesday night, were not disclosed. Flock CEO Shawn Hardin wrote that the company will help Zynga develop “the most fun, social games.”

Hardin did not detail how his company’s Web browser might be meshed with Zynga’s online offerings, which include a range of gaming applications for Facebook, MySpace, Apple’s iPhone and for Web portals such as Yahoo. But the acquisition underscores continuing interest in companies developing applications that plug into popular social networking services.

Flock’s Web browser is based on Google’s open-source Chromium browser code. The company’s first product was based on Mozilla’s open-source Firefox browser, but Flock switched to Chromium’s code base in June 2010 and also made Google the default search engine.

Flock has customized Chromium with a sidebar that delivers real-time information from social networking sites and other Web services such as Flickr, Twitter and YouTube. Flock’s browser also helps people to share photos, video and stories on those services.

The company says it has around 10 million users of its browser, but that still makes it a very small player in the browser market, which is dominated by Microsoft’s Internet Explorer and Mozilla’s Firefox.

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