Skyfire Explain Their Departure from BlackBerry Development

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Skyfire have recently come out with a really outspoken and honest blog post regarding their development for BlackBerry. As most know, Skyfire have been developing a 3rd party browser for BlackBerry that will render all manner of media and compete with/complement the native browser. The browser works by rendering all the pages on their server, and then sending your device a picture of what you’re browsing. This circumvents the need to render it on the device.

BlackBerry users have been waiting for some time now, and it seems they’ll have to wait even longer. This is Skyfire’s explanation for skipping BlackBerry for now, and focusing on Android:

  • We see Android as a fast-rising ecosystem, with a rich, totally open developer environment, a healthy app market and a healthy advertising and search ecosystem. The Android OS has a tremendous amount of interest from handset makers and carriers, and also has a strong need for making the explosion of video more network optimized (Skyfire’s wheelhouse).

  • The Blackberry developer environment is not as favorable for cutting-edge application development. The APIs are fragmented and inconsistent, and the Java virtual machine Blackberry requires is not efficient. While Blackberry users are desperate for a better browser – we know, and we hear them – we only want to bring out something that meets our high standards and is truly great.
  • The timing makes sense to return to Blackberry in the future. Blackberry has pledged to improve their developer environment in their 6.0 OS coming at the end of this year, and we can’t wait to see it. Blackberry has said at that time they will introduce a webkit browser with server-side assist on html and text, developed based on their acquisition of Torch Mobile. We understand it will be a long way from able to handle native Flash 10.1 and similar rich media plug-ins, and we think we can build on that webkit engine and add cloud-based new features around it.
  • I think there are a few issues at play here. First, RIM’s upcoming BlackBerry browser demo probably showed Skyfire that BlackBerry users won’t have such a large demand for a new browser. Second, what they’re saying has a lot of merit: the BlackBerry platform could be easier to develop for. In the end, this was an obvious business decision for Skyfire, and I’m curious to see how their cloud solutions complement the browser when it’s finally developed.

    On a side note, I really hope they’re not correct when they say: “We understand it will be a long way from able to handle native Flash 10.1 and similar rich media plug-ins.”

    • ljp

      I think they are just using the common misperception that RIM's development tools aren't up to the task. It's an easy out for programmers to put the blame on RIM rather than their own shortcomings.
      Because if I ran a business and had a product that I felt was better than the competition, I think I'd focus on the marketplace of 41 million users(and growing) who are “desperate for a better browser” rather than head to the place where you're just another face in the crowd.

    • JWM

      This is a joke. They simply see that the new BB browser is better than their own product so why bother. It's actually a dis on Android if you think about it.

    • papped

      They're having money problems and their old Skyfire browser didn't have much growth potential at all… hence why the android version of the browser is 100% different than the old Skyfire was…

      In other words, they had to start over and weren't able to crank it out on multiple platforms from scratch, so they tried to blame it on BB so that they don't look bad.

    • murphythadog

      I almost died laughing at JWM's comment about BB browser being better, there is no way anyone can make a browser as bad as RIM's. I see it as the beginning of the end of RIM as we know it. RIM is the new Palm. People are trying to find reasons why they should stay while others are jumping ship and going to bigger and better things.

    • murphythadog

      I almost died laughing at JWM's comment about BB browser being better, there is no way anyone can make a browser as bad as RIM's. I see it as the beginning of the end of RIM as we know it. RIM is the new Palm. People are trying to find reasons why they should stay while others are jumping ship and going to bigger and better things.