Skyfire for iPhone - It came, it didn't work, it evaporated

Skyfire for iPhone - It came, it didn't work, it evaporated

Summary: Yesterday Skyfire, the browser that bought Flash video to the iPhone, made an early appearance in the Apple iTunes App Store. I paid my $2.99 and downloaded the app which promised to take Flash video and transcodes it into HTML5-compatible H.264 format, but due to overwhelming demand, I never got it to work.

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Yesterday Skyfire, the browser that bought Flash video to the iPhone, made an early appearance in the Apple iTunes App Store. I paid my $2.99 and downloaded the app which promised to take Flash video and transcodes it into HTML5-compatible H.264 format, but due to overwhelming demand, I never got it to work.

Now Skyfire is gone from the App Store, the developers saying that it's "sold out."

So, what happened? Here's what's posted on the official Skyfire blog:

Skyfire for iPhone has been received with unbelievable enthusiasm. Despite our best attempts and predictions, the demand far exceeds our initial projections.

The user experience was performing well for the first few hours, but as the surge continued, the peak load on our servers and bandwidth caused the video experience to degrade.

Thus we are effectively ‘sold out’ and will temporarily not accept new purchases from the App Store.  We are working really hard to increase capacity and will be accepting new purchases from the App Store as soon as we can support it.

We are very grateful for the demand. Within 5 hours, Skyfire for iPhone became the top grossing app, the third highest paid app overall and the top application in the Utilities category. Wow!

Please bear with us as we bring our capacity in line with the incredible demand – stay tuned.

My experience of Skyfire can be summed up in one word - disappointing.

Despite downloading the app within minutes of it being released, I couldn't get any of the transcoding to work. It seems that either Skyfire had underestimated demand, or don't have the infrastructure in place to cope with the realities of transcoding Flash for iPhone users on the fly.

Right now, it's not Skyfire, more SkyFAIL.

Only time will tell if I wasted my $2.99.

Topics: Smartphones, Hardware, iPhone, Mobility

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18 comments
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  • RE: Skyfire for iPhone - It came, it didn't work, it evaporated

    I feel bad for them, often infrastructure requirement are impossible to guess for new services. Getting that balance between "wasteful" and "insufficient" can be very hard, especially in the fist few days when you have very little market research data and are hesitant to spend money on resources you may not need.

    Coincidentally, a similar thing happened to me when I released a product that operated "in the cloud." The 500-1000 users I anticipated came in the first hour, and after a day (and 2,000,000) users my server died. It took a full week to get back online.
    ShanOw
    • RE: Skyfire for iPhone - It came, it didn't work, it evaporated

      @ShanOw What happened in the end?
      The Star King
      • RE: Skyfire for iPhone - It came, it didn't work, it evaporated

        @The Star King
        I managed to find a new provider and get the "essential" functions back online, simply to prevent a mess walkaway. It took another 2-3 weeks to get everything back to a fully operational level. It was quite humiliating in retrospect.
        ShanOw
  • Underestimating requirement for Flash on iPhone

    But Stevie keeps telling us the no-one wants or needs Flash on their iPhones.

    Seems that Skyfire aren't the only ones underestimating the requirement for Flash on iPhone.
    iTeaBoy
    • RE: Skyfire for iPhone - It came, it didn't work, it evaporated

      @iTeaBoy Its not the requirement. They underestimated the demand.
      Jimster480
  • RE: Skyfire for iPhone - It came, it didn't work, it evaporated

    tested it on my ipad - laggy but it worked
    bobrazovski
    • RE: Skyfire for iPhone - It came, it didn't work, it evaporated

      @bobrazovski Does is still work?
      The Star King
  • Don't base your Skyfire experience on the iPhone.

    Let's just say that Skyfire is and will continue to be a success both from a popularity and new technology standpoint.

    The only thing symbolic of the iPhone is that in so many respects the Apple designers have intentionally blocked use of what are simply de facto protocols, e.g., Java, Flash, standardized jacks, you name it, all for the sake of being proprietary.

    They have lost the battle for dominance in the smartphone market and only have a toe hold in a niche 'elitist' OS market.

    You can do what you want with Android.
    You can only do what Apple says you can do with any of their products.

    May they continue to stay in their niche where they belong.
    Dietrich T. Schmitz, ~ Your Linux Advocate
    • RE: Skyfire for iPhone - It came, it didn't work, it evaporated

      @Dietrich T. Schmitz, Your Linux Advocate

      Wow, I didn't realize the iPhone was in a niche position? Thanks!
      dave95.
      • RE: Skyfire for iPhone - It came, it didn't work, it evaporated

        @dave95.
        Dietrich does get a little evangelical with his hyperboles occasionally and some of his Apple opinions are flat out wrong but he is loyal to his chosen platform.

        When he writes about Apple and their products, I'll take his opinions with more than a grain of salt. When he writes about Android, Linux and netbooks, I'll take them with more than a fair share of trust.
        kenosha77a
  • would it not be possible...

    for the iphone itself to do the transcoding? Why does the conversion need to be done on a central server anyway? This creats a huge bottleneck.

    Skyfire might be better off operating on a peer-to-peer basis rather than central download. It works for Skype.
    The Star King
  • Well that was completely foreseeable. What a bunch of idiots. If they had

    built it on Azure it would have automatically scaled up to how ever many servers were needed to handle the load. Who's still dumb enough to build a web service without built in scale out these days? Duh!
    Johnny Vegas
  • RE: Skyfire for iPhone - It came, it didn't work, it evaporated

    It would be interesting to hear Steve Job's comments right about now. Despite his insistence that "there shall be no Flash on the iPhone", there's OBVIOUSLY a demand for it.

    I wonder if his "Reality Distortion Field" includes a self-deception module? ;-)
    aureolin
    • RE: Skyfire for iPhone - It came, it didn't work, it evaporated

      @aureolin
      There is a reason they chose to use a scene from Orwell's Nineteen Eighty Four in some of their earlier ads. Jobs seems to have mastered the notion of "Doublethink." :P
      ShanOw
  • RE: Skyfire for iPhone - It came, it didn't work, it evaporated

    I've had my iPhone for a year without Flash, and have never noticed the need for it. So I can only assume that the advance publicity for Skyfire for the iPhone simply stampeded those iPhone users who were led to believe that Flash was essential. Unfortunately, that meant that ALL Flash on the sites they visited, including those annoying Flash ads, created enough demand on Skyfire's servers to overload them. Once the stampede is over and things go back to normal, I expect that things will revert back to normal, and Skyfire will make a healthy profit, with little or no expansion of their server capacity needed.
    ssaha
    • RE: Skyfire for iPhone - It came, it didn't work, it evaporated

      @ssaha
      Interesting... I run into it all the time. From this story it seems there is an awful lot of other people who run into it too.
      flyerbry2
  • Amazing Journalism Skills

    I love the "it didn't work for me so therefore it sucks" mentality. Absolutely astonishing reporting.

    I haven't bothered to try it out - I don't see any need for Flash video on my iPhone.
    Ktroje
  • RE: Skyfire for iPhone - It came, it didn't work, it evaporated

    flash on the blackberry playbook has rewritten the whole flash story. it's a dynamite success, well written, best in class flash and HTML 5 on a good-as-it gets operating system.
    Forgot to mention best-in-class video chat as well.
    Dan McTaggart