Skyfire has released their 1.0 version for Windows Mobile and Symbian, and they’re one step closer to a BlackBerry beta. The BlackBerry alpha is officially acknowledged in their press release, and the only official word from Skyfire is that they “will have an announcement this summer.”
If you have a WinMo or Symbian phone, you can get an idea of what the BlackBerry client will be like by downloading it from get.skyfire.com.
Over one million consumers have installed and used the Skyfire browser in just under five months, making it the fastest growing downloadable mobile browser in North America.
So far, the official line from Skyfire is vague but promising:
Skyfire has plans to bring their browser to more smartphones and recently launched a Private Closed Alpha program for the BlackBerry platform. The company will announce plans for a Public BlackBerry Beta at a later date.
This step will offer an approximate twenty-one million BlackBerry users the opportunity to finally be able to access the PC web on their phone.
Skyfire 1.0 compatibility
Skyfire users can customize the start page with RSS feeds from their favorite websites. In addition, they can integrate their Facebook and Twitter accounts to import status updates and tweets, and easily publish their status to these networks. Skyfire is the only mobile browse to share and publish any web page to Facebook and Twitter networks with one click.
What’s new in Skyfire 1.0
Improvements specific to the Skyfire 1.0 release include enhanced navigation, zooming and interaction as well as faster launch, power optimization, and new search functionality. Having previously delivered rich media and text readability on a small screen, the focus of this latest release was helping users get to the content they want more quickly.
As the new version starts-up, users can type a search or URL in the Superbar while even while Skyfire is connecting in the network. After a web page loads, smooth scrolling and zooming – similar to an iPhone – helps users navigate the page more quickly. Likewise, now users can click on links on the first page load without having to zoom first.
Unique user activity – Doing things no other mobile browser can do
Skyfire users are different than iPhone and Opera users because they can watch video, and tend to watch a lot of video on their phones – something not possible on other browsers. They watch video on the PC version of websites such as Hulu, but also video embedded and shared in Twitter and Facebook updates from their friends. The also watch video on news sites and experience browsing and video in one experience, vs waiting to click through to a separate application. There is also high engagement with watching live streaming events such as the Barak Obama Presidential inauguration and Summer Olympics during the beta period.
Skyfire users are active on websites that don’t work on any other mobile browser. Consistently, the top websites used on Skyfire are the top websites used on PCs – such as the full-featured Hulu, YouTube, Facebook, Myspace, Google Docs, full-featured Gmail, and professional sport leagues’ full websites.
Giving a significant installed base a better browser
Skyfire runs on more than 70% of the worldwide installed base of smartphones, based on figures from a March 2009 Gartner report. These include smartphone devices made by HTC, LG, Motorola, Nokia, Palm, Samsung, Sony Ericsson, T-Mobile, to name a few, and newer models with VGA and WVGA screen resolutions all running on Windows Mobile or Symbian platforms.
These consumers now have a mobile browser that gives them an iPhone-like browsing experience but more, since Skyfire offers Flash 10 and Ajax. With the Skyfire 1.0 release, this large installed base can get the PC web on their phone with a simple to install, free download.
Poised for massive growth
The smartphone market is forecasted to be larger than 400M installed base by 2010, and almost 4B total mobile devices. The smartphone segment is growing even in the recessionary climate. Mobile data revenue was $32B in revenue in 2008, with a 26% ARPU growth. As a browser that delivers the PC web, Skyfire has much to gain from this growth. Additionally since Skyfire handles much of the processing work on the server-side, the browser reduces carrier bandwidth – making it not only good for consumers but mobile operators as well.