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Skyfire Giveth and Skyfire Taketh Away

Nov 4 2010, 9:33am CDT | by , in News | Mobile Phones

Skyfire Giveth and Skyfire Taketh Away
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Skyfire for iPhone off app store for now

Good ole Steve may not think iPhone users want Flash, or more accurately he may want to believe we don’t want Flash, but he is dead wrong. Hoards of iPhone users have been crying since 2007 that the smartphone needed Flash and Apple has been adamant that Flash will never come to the iPhone.

Over the last few months Apple has done an abrupt about face as word that some companies might actually sue over Apple blocking Flash from its devices. This had to be at least part of the reason why Apple went back on its claim that Flash was not welcome. This week the first browser ever for the iPhone and iPad surfaced that would support Flash video. The browser was called Skyfire.

The browser doesn’t play flash video natively on the Apple device, because that capability is still absent. Skyfire instead renders the Flash video into HTML5 on the server side, which the iPhone can play, and offers the video up to the user of the device. That means that behind the scenes at Skyfire HQ there are banks of servers dedicated to the actual conversion of Flash video to HTML 5.

Anyone with half a brain had to know that Skyfire was going to blow up big time and it did. In very short order the app, selling for $2.99 on the App Store, took the top spot on the list of Top Grossing apps ahead of Angry Birds and all others. Skyfire has offered no official indication of just how many copies of the browser software it managed to move in the days since launch.

What we do know is that many users of the iPad and iPhone that wanted to grab the Skyfire browser went to the App Store and were greeted with a statement that the app was not available right now. In fact the app was listed as "sold out" and considering you can’t run out of copies of a digital download many may have feared Apple pulled the app.

That is not the case and apparently the reason Skyfire pulled the app from the App Store was overwhelming demand. The company says that the app is only temporarily "sold out" and it will return. The reason that the app was pulled is that the crushing demand on the servicers for the app started to make video performance issues for some users. Rather than letting the video performance suffer, Skyfire stopped selling until it can upgrade servers to stand the crush of Apple fans wanting Flash.

The real question in my mind is will the posturing between Steve Jobs and Adobe over Flash on the iPhone and iPad now end. Steve can’t deny that hoards of iPhone and iPad users want Flash and keeping Flash off the iPhone at this point is nothing but an exercise in Steve trying to exert supreme control over the device. I would be surprised if we don’t end up with an update before long for Apple devices supporting Flash. My hope is that Steve is doing with Skyfire what other tablet makers did to him by letting the iPad hit market to gauge interest and then coming in with their own offerings. Perhaps Apple will see the crushing demand and finally admit Flash needs to be on the iPhone and iPad.

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