Stakes Raised in the Mobile Browser Game - Enter SkyFire

By Kevin Michaluk on 28 Jan 2008 10:55 am
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SkyFire Web Browser A couple weeks back I went off on a RANT about the web browser that ships standard on BlackBerrys, basically saying that it's nothing to brag about and that while there is a place for optimized web browsing (necessary for those who have limited data/speed) what the world now wants is full-web browsing on a smartphone. In that article I named the iPhone's Safari browser the best of class standard, with Opera Mini (which is available for use on the BlackBerry) as the next best thing.

Well, it looks like there may be a new KING in the mobile browser world - enter SkyFire. SkyFire is currently being developed for Windows Mobile and Symbian phones but *not* BlackBerrys, and will basically bring full Firefox web browsing to the palm of your hand... to quote the SkyFire team, "Our goal is that if Firefox can render it, then your Windows Mobile phone will render it the exact same way."

How will SkyFire accomplish this? By doing it all Server Side. Everything gets rendered on SkyFire's servers and pushed out to the phone. This takes care of the processor/speed limitations currently inherent to the smartphone category and provides support for higher end programming and plugins - Javascript, AJAX, FLASH, Quicktime, Windows Media... we're talking REAL web browsing here. Remember, even though the iPhone browser is the "new standard", it still has limitations like No Flash support. With SkyFire, there's no need to have a YouTube app - you'll be able to go to the real YouTube.com and use the site just as you would when visiting from a desktop computer (video demo after the jump). 

What's this mean to BlackBerry Users? Hard to say. RIM are server side kings - one of the downfall/risks of the SkyFire browser is security, but this is an area where RIM has tremendous experience and respect. Maybe RIM's browser of the future will take a similar approach to SkyFire and do it all server side and push server-rendered webpages to the phone (from my understanding, this is how RIM's new BES BlackBerry platform will handle html email viewing). Makes sense, and could work over the BES and BIS given some updates.

To me this also means RIM is going to be the last big player in the smartphone world to get a truly kick-ass mobile browser. Apple has it, Windows Mobile and Symbian are going to get it, and that leaves our beloved BlackBerrys waiting last in line. Hopefully being last means we will end up having the best browser of the bunch, but who knows for certain at this point - I'm not sure the BlackBerry OS has the built in capabilities to run this kind of app. Maybe bigger sweeping changes will need to be seen first before we see full web browsing with no comprimises on a BlackBerry. All I can say for certain is that BlackBerrys need full web browsing capabilities and I hope RIM is working on it.

Dieter took a test of drive of SkyFire last Friday. Fore more information, images and insight on the SkyFire web browser, head over to WMExperts.com

Here's a Video Overview of SkyFire.... 

Update: Our friendly CrackBerry.com moderator Bla1ze raised a good point this afternoon in discussion. While it's unlikely that we'll see a SkyFire browser for BlackBerry anytime soon, what we MAY JUST SEE in the not so distance future is a FireFox Mobile Web browser for the BlackBerry. Mozilla hasn't confirmed or denied their being a version for the BB, but I'd rate it as more likely than not.

Discuss FireFox Mobile in the Forums >>

Topics: Berry-Free Talk

Kevin Michaluk Kevin Michaluk "Founder, Editor in Chief " 3922 (articles) 3288 (forum posts)
8 comments

biggem001

Oh jeeze, after watching Dog vs Balloon via Skyfire, cant get any better.
^Found a youtube with a win-mobi fone that was watching flash movie, while flash banners where moving, and gifs were moving.

dang... common BLACKBERY!!!

Bla1ze

As Dieter addressed cost is gonna be a concern for this browser, with everything being done server side, the larger the user base gets for this browser, cost to the company will go up, which makes me wonder how long this browser will survive, it all seems great at this point, but I hope they have a good business model to maintain the services, as for RIM upgrading their browser or seeing SkyFire on BB, I think it may be a bit off or SkyFire would be touting that information already or at least their intent to develop for BB, RIM for some reason imo, does not seem overly interested in giving it's users an amazing browser to work with which is a shame...but one can still hope that a sudden push will come.

kurrupt_1

I want this to work for Blackberry! Any time line on a beta for the BB?

Sumit

There seems to be a fair bit of hand-waving here. How exactly is the server going to render everything, including Youtube videos?

Kevin Michaluk

just added a video overview to the post...so you can see that it's not "hand-waving". not sure of the ins and out of how it does it, but it does it.

ian k

I really wish there would stop being front page updates that have nothing to do with blackberry. :( I know they 'plan' on bringing this to the blackberry platform, but we all know that this platform is notoriously difficult to program for(easily the most difficult of the big players) and I am almost positive we will never see this on our current gen berries.

Kevin Michaluk

Your response is exactly the reason we write posts like this from time to time. The BlackBerry platform IS notoriously difficult to program for - hence a post like this a bit of an open letter saying "we need to get on the ball so our beloved BlackBerry can remain the dominant smartphone for years to come".

We try to cover a range of content at CB... news, reviews, humor, how to, shopping, bb media...and we do have a category called Berry-Free Talk. Mixes it up and some people like to know what else is going on in the smartphone world outside of bb. In this case the Berry-Free talk is actually very Berry related.

I realize people might not like every piece of content we publish - hence why we have a broad range. Feel free to scroll down and you can skip to the next story.

ian k

I agree that raising awareness for the platform is a good thing, but I guess i'm just not sure i agree on how much of an impact it will really make. I of all people would LOVE to see this come to our berries. It's just that when i look at the other smartphone platforms, i get discouraged at the absolute dearth of available software that there is, comparatively speaking. I came from the sidekick platform which has total crap software available compared to the berry, but i look at the other platforms and i still wonder what could be.

this is more frustration at the lack of software for the blackberry than the posts made on cb.com. I still check the site every day and enjoy it. :)