Opera buys SkyFire, the company that brought Flash to iOS

Opera has bought US browser startup SkyFire for up to $155m in a deal aimed at boosting its offerings for mobile carriers.

After moving its rendering engine to WebKit , Norwegian browser maker Opera has acquired SkyFire in a deal that could be worth up to $155m.

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SkyFire launched its mobile browser technology Rockey Optimizer in 2010, which smooths out multimedia over 3G and 4G mobile networks. Its other key product, Horizon, will give Opera a mobile browser extension and personalisation toolbar. 

The initial cash and stock acquisition is valued at $50m, according to Opera. However, other performance-based payments over three years could take the deal to $155m in total.

SkyFire secured $18m in funding, including $8m from investors including US network Verizon, early last year. It added a further $10m in late 2012, aimed at funding European and Asian expansion.

SkyFire, which started life in 2007, made a splash in 2010 when it launched a browser that 'brought Flash to the iPhone' by rendering Flash Player files on its own servers and delivering it in a format compatible with the H.264 video code used in the iPhone, although it received mediocre reviews.

Announcing the deal on Friday, Lars Boilesen, CEO of Opera, called the pairing "a natural fit".

"Both companies have evolved far beyond their browser roots. SkyFire adds capabilities to our portfolio around video, app optimisation, smartphones and tablets, and strength in North America. With video expected to consume over two-thirds of global mobile bandwidth by 2015, and as time spent on Android and iOS apps explodes, we are excited to extend Opera's solutions for operators," said Boilesen.

SkyFire will remain an independent unit within Opera and its CEO Jeffrey Glueck will become Opera's EVP of Opera's Operator Business, overseeing co-branded Opera Mini and SkyFire offerings.

The deal is expected to close by 15 March, 2013.