Skyfire Mobile Browser Succeeds Where Others Fail - InformationWeek

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Commentary
1/28/2008
11:04 AM
Eric Ogren
Eric Ogren
Commentary
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Skyfire Mobile Browser Succeeds Where Others Fail

It looks like 2008 is shaping up to be the year for the mobile browser market to really come of age. Not only do we have Minimo in alpha stage from Mozilla, but Google is also working on a new browser for its yet-to-be-released Android platform. While work is still underway on

It looks like 2008 is shaping up to be the year for the mobile browser market to really come of age. Not only do we have Minimo in alpha stage from Mozilla, but Google is also working on a new browser for its yet-to-be-released Android platform. While work is still underway on those two mobile browsers, I was able to see a demo of Skyfire's new mobile browser. Is it any good? Let's just say Minimo and the Android browser have their work cut out for them. Oh, and Skyfire topples the iPhone's Safari browser's supremacy.The competition to grab share on the mobile browser market is certainly becoming fierce. For smartphones, there's pocket IE, the S60 browser, Opera Mini, the BlackBerry browser, and Safari. Skyfire will be available in beta soon for Windows Mobile devices, and later this year we'll see more fully realized versions of Minimo and the Android browser. That's a lot of browsers to choose from. How will you decide which one to use?

After seeing a demo of Skyfire in action last week, my guess is you'll all be using it before long.

The reason? Skyfire supports full Web pages. I know, I know, you've heard that before, and been disappointed when Safari didn't support Flash. Well, Skyfire does, and more. Skyfire lets smartphone users experience the real Web. With it, you can access and interact with any Web site built with any Web technology, including dynamic Flash, advanced Ajax, Java and more, at the same speeds you're accustomed to on your PC. Skyfire will let you view sites such as YouTube without having to go to a mobile-optimized version of the site.

Skyfire includes numerous features aimed at simplifying the mobile browsing experience. For example, when a user conducts a Web search from the home page, Skyfire pulls results from multiple search engines and displays the results in multiple tabs that consumers can easily navigate. In addition, users can bookmark specific locations on a Web page to get to the content that matters most to them in one click, such as stock quotes, sports scores, Over The Air blog posts, etc. Skyfire's user interface features full screen navigation, thumbnail views and zooming to seamlessly resize the Web content to fit the mobile screen.

The demo I saw was Skyfire running on an HTC Windows Mobile smartphone. It was using AT&T's HSDPA 3G network, but only had one bar of coverage. Even so, the speed was incredible. The demonstrators took it through its paces, showing me Web sites that are full of Flash animation. It displayed all of the sites quickly and without stuttering or delays. Skyfire loaded the other Web site I work for faster than I've ever seen it load on a mobile device before.

How does it work? Skyfire uses a proxy to optimize the Web pages similar to Palm's Blazer browser. But Skyfire actually works. Web sites look exactly as they do on the desktop.

You can go to the Skyfire Web site and register now. Skyfire will let you know when the Windows Mobile beta is available. Skyfire also plans to support Symbian-based devices in the near future, and will add other platforms over the course of the year.

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