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11/4/2010
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Skyfire's iPhone Browser Downed By Demand

The Flash-playing browser is "sold out" on App Store, as Skyfire scrambles to beef up its servers.




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Skyfire Labs pulled its Flash-playing iPhone browser off the Apple App Store after only a few hours Wednesday due to surging demand that overwhelmed the company's servers.

On Thursday, the Skyfire mobile browser remained "sold out" on the app store, as the company scrambled to increase server and bandwidth capacity in order to accept new purchases. Skyfire gave no timetable for when it would relaunch the app.

"Please bear with us as we bring our capacity in line with the incredible demand -- stay tuned," Robert Oberhofer, a Skyfire developer, said on the company's blog.

Skyfire's popularity stems from Apple's refusal to support Adobe's Flash technology, which is used throughout the Web to view video and other content. Apple says HTML5, an relatively new technology, is a better alternative, claiming Flash hurts the performance of the iPhone and uses up too much battery power. Adobe denies the claims.

Skyfire Labs' capacity problems are due to how Flash is handled. The company's browser doesn't run Flash. Instead, Flash content is decoded first on the company's servers into HTML5 on the fly and then delivered to the handset. The proxy-based system has received positive reviews for performance.

But the unexpected surge in demand proved too much for Skyfire Labs' servers. "The user experience was performing well for the first few hours, but as the surge continued, the peak load on our servers and bandwidth caused the video experience to degrade," Oberhofer said.

The incident is an indication of the pent up demand for playing Flash content on the iPhone. Despite Apple's position, Flash is the primary Web technology for playing video on Web sites.

Apple gave a nod to that fact in September when it changed its iOS 4.0 developer agreement to allow the use of just about any programming tool, including the Adobe Flash Packager for the iPhone. IOS is the operating system used in the iPhone.

Nevertheless, Apple continues to refuse to provide native support for Flash.

SEE ALSO:

Apple Allows Apps Translated From Flash

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