Skyfire has begun accepting orders for its iPhone browser again, although it will only sell an unknown number of copies before pulling the software from the App Store once again. Apparently the company’s servers and/or bandwidth can’t keep up with the load (it only took several hours of availability for Skyfire to become the top grossing App Store program), which caused the browser to “sell out” only hours after it went live on Wednesday. Skyfire will continue to open up purchasing in waves as capacity permits, but only to US customers; sales in other countries are said to “follow shortly.”
Unfortunately for the hoards of people waiting in line to buy this software, it’s simply not that good. As we saw in our painful video walkthrough, getting videos to load in Skyfire is quite a chore, when they will in fact load at all. Users of Skyfire on Windows Mobile will barely recognize this version: instead of rendering all rich multimedia content server-side, Skyfire for iPhone only recognizes Flash videos and attempts to play them in a dedicated media player. No Silverlight, no Flash games, no Grooveshark, nothing.
Frankly we’re not all that surprised at this jerry-rigged solution, as Skyfire has been nearly unusable on other platforms for months now. Forum moderators continue to placate angry users in the company’s support threads, but the situation has not changed for most, and the poor performance of the iPhone app seems to continue this trend. If we had to make a guess, we’d submit that the Skyfire team is too concerned about pushing its product onto new platforms in front of new potential eyeballs (search deals are a big part of the company’s revenue, as Skyfire for iPhone is the first paid version) instead of improving the experience for existing users.
Skyfire has a long way to go before it fulfills its promise of bringing the full desktop browsing experience to mobile phones. Don’t waste your three or four bucks.