Skyfire mobile browser users outside of North America will not be happy as they have just announced that they will be phasing out version 1.x: “Skyfire 1.X will no longer be supported outside of North America and Western Europe effective July 1st, 2010.” Worse is that all future development of the Proxy based browser version 1.5 will also be stopped as Skyfire is full speed ahead on the development of Skyfire 2.0 which is: “the first “hybrid browser” in the world, combining the best of native webkit rendering with the best of cloud web services, including our famed rich media engine, mash-ups, and more.” Skyfire has enjoyed a lot of success as of late with adding 600,000 users in the first few weeks of releasing their browser for Android users. Now, Skyfire will concentrate development on version 2.0 for the iOS platform iPhone and getting it into the App Store. After that they will focus on Android and Windows Phone devices.
Skyfire has also been attracting a lot of attention from “a number of major wireless operators and handset vendors about embedding Skyfire 2.0 into their default browsers, out of the box.” So with that kind of attention it is easy to see where their focus is going to be.
Focus is critical for any start-up, especially one growing as fast as Skyfire. We’ve grown users 400% in the last year. We’ve launched Skyfire 2.0, which is an entirely new architecture and our flagship going forward. We added some 600,000 users on Android in our first few weeks, and Skyfire 2.0 for iPhone and iOS is coming soon for submission to the Apple AppStore. Meanwhile, we’ve been approached by a number of major wireless operators and handset vendors about embedding Skyfire 2.0 into their default browsers, out of the box.
Our team took a hard look at where we could double down our limited resources on these “hockey stick” growth opportunities, and on Skyfire 2.0.
As a result, we have decided to stop all future development on the old “proxy” Skyfire 1.0 (including version 1.5) architecture, and focus on the 2.0 product, which is our future. With 2.0, Skyfire has introduced the first “hybrid browser” in the world, combining the best of native webkit rendering with the best of cloud web services, including our famed rich media engine, mash-ups, and more.
Yesterday we began notifying 1.0 users outside of North America and Western Europe that we will phase out the 1.0 service. Because 1.0 is only on Windows Mobile and Symbian, only those handsets are affected. Our 2.0 product is growing incredibly fast and continues worldwide. Skyfire 1.X will no longer be supported outside of North America and Western Europe effective July 1st, 2010.
We will bring Skyfire 2.0 to more operating systems over the next year, after Android and iPhone. The exact sequence will depend in part on discussions underway with potential OEM partners, to embed the SkyBar service on devices “out of the box,” as part of the default browser. Skyfire 2.0 is not a browser as much as it is a “cloud service” that boosts the performance and features of the native browser on any device. When you download Skyfire 2.0 as a consumer, you get everything your default browser would do, and more.
Skyfire has been a free, ad-supported app, and as such, it does factor into our decision that the cost of operating the 2.0 product runs a fraction of Skyfire 1.0 per user. 2.0 is not a proxy; only SkyBar services call on our cloud data centers, not the basic page load.
As an ad-supported app, we have seen that in Asia, the Middle East, Africa, and other emerging markets, the mobile ad market and search monetization are very early stage. They are not mature enough to support the Skyfire 1.0 service operating cost. Skyfire had only officially-supported North America and Western Europe launches, but users in over 150 additional countries had “unofficially” downloaded the product. It was time to focus our resources on officially-supported countries, and on Skyfire 2.0 going forward.
We know this decision is an inconvenience to many Skyfire 1.5 users in emerging markets, and while it’s a free service, we appreciate how important and valuable Skyfire has become to people. We have read the many impassioned messages from users in affected countries, and the choice to focus on our flagship product does involve trade-offs which are never easy. In the book Innovator’s Dilemma, Clayton Christianson argued the biggest mistake a company can make is straddling its original product and its next-gen product. With 2.0, Skyfire is going all out to support webkit, html5, and cutting-edge web services. In the long run, everyone will be better off if Skyfire focuses its resources on innovating our flagship product for years to come, bringing it to more users, across the most popular smartphone and multimedia phone platforms.
So stay tuned – there’s lots of good 2.0 product news to come….
– Jeff Glueck, CEO of Skyfire
Note: Skyfire 1.0 and 1.5 will remain available as a free service in the following countries after July 1st: United States, U.K., Canada, Ireland, Portugal, Spain, France, Germany, Belgium, Italy, Finland, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, Korea and Taiwan.