The Skyfire mobile web browser for iOS is now available for purchase from the App Store for $2.99. We weren’t expecting the app to show up until Thursday, but it looks like it’s ready to go a bit ahead of schedule.
While Skyfire uses the same Webkit engine as Safari to render most web content, Skyfire uses remote servers to transcode and compress some data before sending it to your phone. The result is that rich media web sites should load faster — and that you can watch some Flash videos on your web site. Or to put it more accurately, Skyfire converts Flash to HTML5 so that it can be viewed on your phone.
Not all web videos will work properly, and Skyfire can’t handle Flash games. But it provides the closest thing to a full desktop browsing experience with Flash support that you’re going to find on an iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad.
Update: Skyfire has temporarily pulled the browser from the App Store. The mobile web browser quickly became the top grossing app in the App Store this afternoon — and all the new users put a huge strain on Skyfire’s servers. To preserve the experience, the company decided to temporarily stop selling the app while it works to increase capacity.
Of course, odds are that at least some of the new users won’t stick around, so it’s possible Skyfire is going to spend a lot of money improving its servers only to find out that it can’t replicate the huge surge in traffic experienced today as people checked out the app before moving on. On the other hand, it’s also possible that there’s a huge pent up demand for third party web browsers that can handle some form of Flash video on iOS and that even after increasing server capacity Skyfire won’t be able to keep up with demand.
Or you know, maybe everything will work out just fine.