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May 28, 2008

NEWS: Skyfire Raises $13 Million For Mobile Web Browsers

Good News For Carriers

skyfire.jpgMobile Web browser software firm Skyfire Labs has raised $13 million in Series B funding. What will they do with it? Build out their PC-quality Web browser -- currently in private beta for phones running Microsoft's (MSFT) Windows Mobile -- to other phones and operating systems.

Skyfire's not alone in trying to bring a better browser to mobile phones: Opera Software has been doing this for years, and Mozilla (SAI 25 #5) is working on a version of Firefox for smartphones. Apple's (AAPL) Safari browser is present on its iPhones, and phones running Google's (GOOG) Android OS will run a similar browser.

But all of this is excellent news for wireless carriers like AT&T (T), Verizon (VZ), and Sprint Nextel (S). Why? We think better browsers make surfing the mobile Web a more powerful and less frustrating experience, which means more people are likely to do it. Which means more subscribers to all-you-can-eat monthly data plans -- which carriers are counting on for growth as revenue from plain-vanilla cellphone calls declines.

Lightspeed Venture Partners led Skyfire's funding round; previous investors Matrix Partners and Trinity Ventures also contributed. The company has now raised $17.8 million.

See Also:
Apple's iPhone Drives Huge Increase in Mobile Web, Video, Music Usage
The Analyst, The iPhone, And The Future Of The Mobile Web
Why Firefox Is Thinking Small: Mobile Browser Market To Explode

Experience Better Mobile Web Browsing with Skyfire

 A Hands-on Look at Skyfire

Skyfire offers users a web experience akin to a PC with fast speeds and support for web technologies that most mobile handsets lacks. With Skyfire you can visit sites such as ReadWriteWeb, Youtube, Last.fm, CNN, and more just like you would on your PC. Skyfire loaded every website I threw at it without a hitch. I was even able to read my feeds in Google Reader and use features such as sharing an item and staring an item just like I would on my PC.


Navigating Skyfire is easy and intuitive. The homepage features three tabs that puts everything you need at your fingertips such as featured sites and sections, bookmarks, search, and your browsing history. The integrated search bar provides results from Yahoo and Google with links to view images, videos, and maps of your search results. Best of all, switching between each search engine was quick. All of these features were easy to use.

The zoom feature was a breath of fresh air from Pocket Internet Explorer (PIE). When you first head to a site, you'll see a full view of the with the option to zoom in with your keypad. A small cursor box will appear as you move the keypad around. Once you've selected a spot to zoom in on, Skyfire immediately renders a better view of your selection. From this view, you can interact with the page by selecting links, playing videos and more. When moving the mouse to scroll around the page, Skyfire automatically optimizes the other portions of the site for maximum viewing experience. Zooming out to fullview was as simple as pressing my keypad down again.

Audio and Video

Audio and video streams worked flawlessly on the browser. After testing the application against Youtube, I tried a bigger service: Hulu (Hulu coverage). Video playback was a little choppy which was expected. However, the performance far surpassed my expectations of the browser possibly choking and crashing.

Skyfire Supported Technologies

Skyfire is a free downloadable browser that aims to be the Safari of Windows Mobile among other mobile platforms.Right now, the application only supports Windows Mobile 5 and 6 handsets, both touchscreen and non-touchscreen. Skyfire supports web technologies such as HTML, CSS, JavaScript, Flash, Ajax, QuickTime, Java, Windows Media, and plans to expand with each new release of the application...

Skyfire Raises $13 million in Series B Funding

from TechCrunch by 

...Skyfire is a mobile browser which offsets a good amount of the page rendering workload to a server, freeing up the handset’s CPU and RAM to crunch things most mobile browsers leave out — namely, Flash and AJAX. Check out the demo video here...

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