When we started out designing the 5.X line of Skyfire for iPad, we looked at the top three behaviors or things that people do on an iPad web browser:
- Google something, or type in a website address to go to it
- Read a webpage (blogs or news)
- Surfing (you’re bored, and want to find something cool)
With this release, the $4.99 Skyfire for iPad browser comes with an all new Search, Scrolling, and Surfing experience. It offers 3 great reasons to switch iPad browsers today, and you can download the app here.
Switch iPad Browsers, and get a more simple search experience:
Previously in Skyfire for iPad there were 2 input boxes as part of the top browser chrome. One was for for searching, and the second was for URL web address input. The new Skyfire Omnibar consolidates the input boxes into one single field. It can handle search and URL navigation. It comes with smart search suggestions, and the ability to easily switch the default search engine to one of 6 options: Google, Bing, Yahoo, Yandex, Ask, or Baidu.
Switch for a great Touch Scrolling experience:
One of the most common behaviors in a web browser is scrolling up and down a page while you’re looking for content on a page or while reading. In the new Skyfire for iPad 5.2 version, the top and bottom browser chrome smoothly “hides” as you scroll down a page, and if you want to see the toolbar or top chrome browser controls, just scroll up a tiny bit and the interface will smoothly slide back into place. The philosophy of this feature is simple: when users are reading or looking for something on a webpage, the browser interface should get out of the way. All pixels should be used to display the content of the webpage. One slight motion of your finger and the controls are back. We think it’s silky smooth - please try it out, and let us know how you like it.
Switch for an awesome Surfing experience with Skyfire’s toolbar/ Stumble Upon:
Skyfire for iPad comes with the Skyfire Horizon mobilebrowser extensions toolbar. Compare it with the Google Chrome extensions store, but within an iPad web browser! You can dock handy web apps, bookmarks, andextensions in the toolbar at the bottom of the Skyfire browser. With this release, we have expanded the extensions gallery to 50+ extensions ready for your enjoyment. Having these handy webapps at your fingertips will change how you discover and surf the web. My personal favorite is the StumbleUpon extension. To test drive it for yourself, go into the “Add More” section of Skyfire’s toolbar, and tap the blue ribbon with the white +. Then scroll to the bottom to find StumbleUpon, tap the blue and white +, and it will install into your Horizon toolbar. Now with just one tap you can Stumble from Skyfire! If youhaven’t stumbled much before, watch out - it’s totally addictive.
As always, we will continue to improve the Skyfire iPad browser, so if you have any feedback for us, we would love to hear it.
Last year we worked with Harris Interactive to survey US and UK consumers on their smartphone habits, and in the course of doing so, learned a great deal about why consumers leave one wireless provider for another. Other than price (49%), the biggest reason cited by US smartphone owners who had switched mobile carriers during the previous year was to seek better data coverage and download speeds on their wireless network (40% cited this reason).
Now comes a new survey by the NPD Group that shows that the focus by consumers on network quality is only growing, as each network finds it more difficult than ever before to compete on exclusive smartphones and unique services or apps. According to NPD's new Connected Intelligence Carrier Smartphone Report, network speed has grown significantly in importance from 25 percent of smartphone owners considering a switch in carriers in Q4 2011, to 41 percent in Q4 2012. Network reliability and better coverage also grew in importance among those consumers. Taking a look at the chart here, you'll see that "all things network" are growing in importance, while factors like exclusive device availability and customer service are declining or are neutral in stated importance.
These figures certainly jibe with what Skyfire hears from operators around the world on a weekly basis - particularly those operators who see 2013 as the year to take a great leap forward in assuring their customers' quality of experience. Since operators can't predictably harness the pipe-clogging over-the-top (OTT) video traffic that streams in droves across their networks, they're looking to Skyfire and complementary QoE-focused, next-gen network service providers to help measure, quantify and then mitigate congestion where it occurs in real time, even down to the individual user and session level.
Something tell me that just as device and app availability came to be fairly standard over time on each network, so too will a guaranteed first-rate quality of experience be a "given" on the networks of the near future, particularly on those network providers who are embracing the flexibility and scalability of cloud, SDN and NFV architectures. It's clear that it's what the people are asking for, and they're voting in 2-year contract increments for those network providers who are listening.
Blue Kangaroo are a key partner of Skyfire's in the deployment of robust contextual browsing functionality in our mobile browser extension platform, Skyfire Horizon. The "Offers" button found in the operator-, iPad and Android versions of the platform is powered by Blue Kangaroo and its mobile-centric technology, and it brings a "personal shopping" experience that provides valuable offers and deals, based on whatever page you happen to be browsing on your smartphone or tablet. Already live on multiple devices with one major US-based wireless operator, Skyfire Horizon is an announced part of Sprint's Pinsight Media+ ecosystem as well, and will be a part of numerous upcoming Android devices from Sprint. The Skyfire Horizon toolbar is also available within Skyfire's own downloadable iPad and Android apps.
We caught up with Blue Kangaroo's Chief Revenue Officer, Laurence Marks, and talked with him about how his company is re-imagining shopping for a mobile age, as well as just how Blue Kangaroo powers offers discovery and as a valuable component of the Skyfire Horizon browser extension platform.
Tell us a little bit about Blue Kangaroo – your mission, how your products work, and where users can find Blue Kangaroo functionality outside of Skyfire Horizon.
Blue Kangaroo is a free Personal Shopper that delivers instant gratification for shoppers by finding the best, most relevant offers from their favorite brands and products. Our mission is to make sure that our shoppers always get the right offer at the right time. We scour the deal universe to deliver on that promise including offers from major retailers, daily deal services, loyalty programs, local merchants, flash sale sites, big discounters, in-store offers and more.
The Blue Kangaroo app on Skyfire Horizon does two great things for shoppers. As they surf mobile retail stores and visit their local mall, “the Roo” alerts shoppers to the best, most relevant offers and filters out the clutter of deals that do not work. In addition, our app delivers a Twitter-like hot list of recommended deals each day that are personalized to the shopper’s interests.
Over time, our Personal Shopper gets steadily better at picking offers you’d like. With your explicit permission, our service learns your preferences and interests by observing your recent retail site visits and searches, as well as noting the emails flooding into your personal Yahoo or Gmail inbox from marketing newsletters and daily deal services. From all these indicators, the Roo builds a dynamic profile of active shopping interests that gets better at understanding your individual shopping needs.
As Blue Kangaroo delivers instant gratification for consumers, we also help our partners achieve their main goals. Our 1600+ marketing partners receive opt-in permission for personally targeted marketing, and our distribution partners realize more engagement and new revenue streams.
Where else can you find us? In addition to the Skyfire Horizon toolbar, you can find Blue Kangaroo’s deal-discovery services today at www.BlueKangaroo.com, as a free downloadable app for Android in the Google Play store and for iOS in the AppStore.
What are some of the biggest challenges in shopping and deal discovery for users now in 2013?
There’s no shortage of offers out there. In fact, we move through a constant white-out blizzard of deals and offers that we end up ignoring. As a result, we miss many amazing deals that we’d love if only we knew about them. And that’s the challenge: how can we know about just the right offers at just the right times?
The challenge deepens on mobile phones, where screens and keys are smaller and users have no patience for long lists and cumbersome navigation routines. The mobile environment requires that deal discovery services be effortless, intuitive, and highly selective in finding exactly the right offers for the user’s current context – whether this involves a particular retail site that the shopper is visiting at this moment, or involves nearby stores in the shopping mall where the shopper has taken her phone. Effortless, intuitive and selective delivering instant gratification – that’s the solution that Blue Kangaroo is building.
What makes the availability of Blue Kangaroo functionality within the Skyfire Horizon platform exciting to you and your company?
The Skyfire Horizon platform finally makes it easy to integrate a user’s favorite apps into their mobile browsing experience. Blue Kangaroo’s mission is to provide the mobile consumer instant gratification for offers. Horizon puts the best, most relevant offers at their fingertips whether they are shopping on mobile or in-store at the mall.
How do you see mobile shopping evolving in coming years, and what roles do you see both Blue Kangaroo and Skyfire playing in that evolution?
The efficiency and relevance of mobile marketing will be transformed within the next 12-18 months by the advent of shopping services and devices that truly understand what we call the consumer’s “Shopping GPS”. Shopping GPS is the mapping of a consumer’s shopping preferences, buying intent and context (including geo-proximity to stores). These factors all come into play in a consumer’s shopping decisions, and enhance the accuracy of our shopping GPS projections for a given shopper, helping us do a better job of serving up the right offers at just the right times.
An example of where this is headed is highlighted in national surveys in which 85% of consumers say they want relevant offers while they are shopping. With this in mind, Blue Kangaroo has geo-fenced the specific locations of the top 1,350 shopping malls, so when shoppers visit their favorite mall, Blue Kangaroo creates an instant shopping itinerary for their mall visit, prioritizing for them the best, most relevant deals available at this particular mall today, based on the user’s specific, personal interests. Our app becomes your Personal Shopper at the mall, pointing you toward exactly the offers you’d like to see. With Blue Kangaroo, the future of shopping GPS is already here.
Quality of Experience on mobile networks matters - just ask any wireless operator who has lost customers due to dropped calls, patchy coverage, or poor streaming video quality that results in buffering and long start times. We spend much of our time not only on mobile video optimization so that high-bandwidth videos are compressed and playable, but in our new Rocket Optimizer 3.0 solution, we've introduced a breakthrough enhancement that measures, quantifies and then mitigates congestion in the cloud - all at the end-user level.
Trying to stream a video behind a wall, or in a building? Traditional legacy RAN probes or inline appliance solutions might detect congestion on the entire cell, but what about if you're the only one unable to stream that YouTube video because of your location or unique situation? Operators can now target your experience as well, and assure a terrificly fast (and totally transparent) streaming outcome.
Skyfire's Experience Assurance solution is here - and it doesn't require costly and inflexible hardware, nor long deployment cycles (in fact, if you're an operator, we can have you testing our solution in your own environment this week - learn more about our RocketTest program here). We've put together a brand new 6-page Solution Brief on this unique and game-changing aspect of Rocket Optimizer, and we invite you to come download and read it now to learn more.
Today, March 14th, we are happy to announce that the merger between Skyfire and Opera Software has closed. The transaction combines Skyfire, a Silicon Valley-based leader in mobile video optimization and cloud solutions for mobile operators, with Opera, the European-based global pioneer in cloud acceleration and compression to improve mobile user experience.
Skyfire will remain Skyfire, as a brand, as an independent subsidiary, and as a cloud vision. The leadership team at Skyfire has made a multi-year commitment to make this combination a powerful success.
Together, we are stronger in three important ways, and over the coming year, as we launch new products together, the combined vision will become apparent:
- Leveraging the world’s leading ad network, Opera MediaWorks, to allow operators a turnkey solution for heightened monetization in Skyfire Horizon.
- Developing disruptive new products for operators and their consumers that leverage the cloud to solve big challenges.
While the focus of the combination is to develop a leading Mobile Operator solutions business, there is an additional side benefit: As Opera’s consumer products business over time incorporates Skyfire’s world-class video and other capabilities into Opera’s consumer products, there is a chance for consumer browsing to take a giant leap forward in ways never seen before.
Let me elaborate on the three big advantages above.
First, Opera and Skyfire are a natural fit. Skyfire adds capabilities to Opera around video, app optimization, smartphones and tablets, and strength in North America (with three Tier 1 operators as current signed Skyfire customers). With video expected to consume over two-thirds of global mobile bandwidth by 2015, and as time spent on Android and iOS apps explodes, this adds high-growth product lines to Opera’s portfolio.
The merger was attractive to Skyfire as a way to accelerate our global business plan. Opera’s 120+ carrier relationships, global sales team, and worldwide delivery organization can speed up the global adoption of Skyfire’s technology. Opera’s solidity as a public company should give network planners who love Skyfire technology greater confidence in making a long-term vendor selection of Skyfire.
This will particularly be true for Skyfire’s Rocket Optimizer™ software, currently in final deployment testing for a broad nationwide rollout at a Tier-1 US carrier. Rocket Optimizer allows mobile operators to leverage cloud computing to optimize virtually any video and other multimedia on crowded cell towers, including 3G and 4G LTE networks. Rocket Optimizer on average provides mobile networks a 60 percent boost in capacity by reducing the size of video and other multimedia content as needed to fit the available bandwidth. Skyfire can detect when specific users are facing poor quality of experience or connections that need assistance, and intervene in milliseconds. The approach aligns with the trend toward SDN (software-defined networking) and NFV (network function virtualization) among telecommunications operators, thanks to its elastic and virtualization-friendly cloud architecture.
Opera’s global footprint and many co-branded Operator distribution deals will also pair well with Skyfire Horizon™, a mobile browser extension and toolbar platform that allows users to personalize their smartphone browser and operators to gain new monetization opportunities. Two US Tier-1 Operators have signed on to shipping Horizon pre-installed across all Android devices, and other operators are soon to be announced.
To make sure these synergies happen, I will assume two roles, both EVP of the Operator Business for Opera, as well as CEO of Skyfire. Skyfire will remain an independent entity as a wholly owned subsidiary of Opera, and become in many ways Opera’s go-forward brand for products and services for mobile operators.
Second, the Skyfire Horizon monetization platform will be immensely strengthened by building in the option to leverage Opera's MediaWorks advertising unit. Opera MediaWorks is the largest mobile ad network in the world today, with over $400 million in publisher revenue driven through Opera’s AdMarvel, Mobile Theory and 4th Screen Advertising units. Leading publishers such as Pandora, the Wall Street Journal, CondeNast, and the National Hockey League entrust their mobile ad platform to MediaWorks. This same yield optimization, ad targeting, big data analytics, and premium brand ad sales capability is now going to be an option that gives Skyfire Horizon carriers the choice of a “turnkey” solution to drive high effective CPM in the Horizon real estate on smartphones and tablets.
Thirdly, the two companies envision a powerful new set of joint products to be released over the coming year by combining their talents and know-how. In particular, we look to solve some big problems using the cloud.
Opera WebPass is one disruptive idea. Today, mobile users around the world usually pre-pay in small purchases for mobile data, but the average consumer has no idea what “100 megabytes” actually means, and no way way to know if clicking on a video will cost them 2 rupees or 20 rupees (or pesos, remninbi, etc.). All this confusion creates anxiety and uncertainty for consumers. This is bad for operators too, as it holds back mobile data purchases. Buying data should be more “human”, we believe. Users should be able to buy what they really want, with peace of mind. What if you could buy an unlimited day pass to Facebook, or a week-long pass to YouTube?
With Opera WebPass, version 1 of which is live with several operator partners, Opera provides a hosted, complete solution that allows operators to become data retailers instead of wholesalers, with segmented offers and discounts, yield optimization, and creative merchandising and packages. Opera provides a transaction exchange for carrier billing; compression to keep the strain on network economics to a minimum; and an easy user interface with WebPass that makes buying a data top-up as easy as buying an app on a smartphone. WebPass can enable new business models for operators, such as toll free data, ad-supported data, and more - and all without having to endure a multi-year deployment of proprietary PCRF or EPC or RAN equipment, or OSS/BSS changes to make it possible for legacy networks to do new things. With Opera, the operator enjoys a trusted cloud console for package provisioning, enforcement, and upsell - all hosted.
Future versions of WebPass will extend beyond Opera Mini data plans into smartphones and tablets. That’s where Opera Boost comes into play.
Opera Boost is expected to launch in Q3 of 2013. This will be a novel kind of app that lets users accelerate and compress data device-wide on smartphones and tablets, including on any app or browser, and including video compression that can stretch a user’s data plan by 50%. Particularly for roaming, or for users who often encounter spotty connections, it will not only save money, it will also make for faster downloads and browsing and app experiences. The same Skyfire cloud technology that major mobile operators use to improve their network performance can also be at the finger tips of individual users to dial up or down as they wish.
And we’re just getting started.
As for Skyfire consumer products, Skyfire’s web browser products for iOS & Android and Opera's globally-beloved mobile browsers, including Opera Mini, start out with different audiences: smartphone video junkies for Skyfire, speed and data savings lovers for Opera Mini (all the way down to feature phones and 2G connections). Skyfire consumers who have bought apps from Skyfire will be able to continue enjoying those apps, and the 2013 roadmap for Skyfire direct-to-consumer products continues to include many innovations and investments. Over the long run, we will evaluate how we can bring the best of both companies' products together for the benefit of consumers and their operators.
This will be a chance to do more of why we joined Skyfire in the first place. We're passionate. True inventors and innovators want to build great things, and then they want millions of people around the world to use them— that's their pride and motivation. Opera’s over 100 operator customers, and their 311 million active monthly users provide a chance for Skyfire technology to seek a big global stage.
Stronger together. Onward we go.
Browser extensions have been part of the desktop-based web for years now, but what took them so long to come to mobile browsers? We've put together a short set of slides on our Skyfire Horizon mobile browser extension platform, which is currently live on multiple Android smartphones on one large US-based wireless operator, and is coming to Sprint devices very soon. The Skyfire Horizon platform is also now fully integrated in the newest versions of our Skyfire web browser apps for Android and iPad. Tweeting, shopping, Facebooking, LinkedIn-ing, app browsing, content-saving and news-reading has never been easier or more fun. Come learn more about what our platform is providing for the mobile browsers of today and tomorrow.
We at Skyfire are enamored with SlideShare, an excellent tool for publishing presentations and other content on the web. We thought you might want to see a SlideShare version of our brand-new Company Fact Sheet, an overview of our core products and who are and what we do. Expect other presentations and materials to follow in this space shortly.
Skyfire is currently on the ground in Barcelona at the 2013 Mobile World Congress. We're working both within the Opera Software booth and meeting with partners and media all over the show grounds. CEO Jeff Glueck was interviewed earlier today by Telesemana, and in the course of talking about our acquisition by Opera and our mobile video optimization solution Rocket Optimizer, also had the opportunity to do the entire interview in Spanish. Please click on the photo here to start watching.
We've been asked by many of our Skyfire web browser for Android users this past year when we'd get around to upgrading the app for them. Well, our sincere apologies for the wait – but it's here. Skyfire Web Browser 5.0 for Android redefines mobile browsing by letting users personalize their browsing experience with the very best extensions on the mobile web. Our Skyfire Horizon mobile browser extension platform, which is live on Skyfire's iPad app, on the Android devices of a major US Tier 1 wireless operator, and is also coming to Sprint devices later this year, is now available for Android users worldwide. This is a big leap forward for the browser, and we hope you'll try it out for free by downloading it in Google Play now.
Skyfire 5.0 for Android is loaded with features that make browsing the mobile web more social & more useful than ever before. Extensions like Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, Yelp, Related Apps, Offers, Readability and many more allow users to stay connected, find deals, browse apps and save browsed content for later – all without leaving the page they're currently on. Users can add, remove and even create their own extensions. Nearly 20 mobile browser extensions have been added to Skyfire's web browser for the very first time. We've also redesigned the look and feel of the application to make it more simple and streamlined than ever before.
Right now users who have Skyfire 4.0 can also download Skyfire 5.0 and have the two versions side by side; in the next few weeks we'll make it easier simply to upgrade from one to the other. Users of the existing 4.0 browser who have upgraded to access Flash video viewing capability will be able to continue watching Flash-based video. It's important to note that with Skyfire’s focus on mobile browser extension innovation, Skyfire Web Browser 5.0 does not include the Flash video upgrade capability.
We are now focusing our consumer web browsers on making mobile browsing more social, contextual and app-like in the wake of the decline of Flash. Many Skyfire users know that Adobe dropped Flash support on Android last year, and that videos are decreasingly encoded in Flash, with mobile video predominantly being encoded as MP4 and other formats. Skyfire is focusing its attention on building an innovative, world-class, free browser, and not on rendering Flash video for mobile devices that don't support it, nor on making Android users pay for that privilege.
Come download the new Skyfire Web Browser 5.0 for Android in the Google Play store now, or watch this video to see how it works before downloading!
I'm very excited to announce that the Skyfire team will become part of Opera Software. A few moments ago we signed a merger agreement for Opera to acquire Skyfire, and expect the deal to close before March 15. Skyfire will remain Skyfire, as a brand, as an independent subsidiary, and as a vision, with the same great team, same disruptive products and the same market leading cloud solutions for mobility.
This is a major milestone for our Skyfire family and validation of our vision for cloud computing and network function virtualization (NFV) to solve huge problems on mobile networks, from handling the explosion of video over cell towers, to finding ways for mobile operators to regain relevance and monetize in an over-the-top world. Back in 2007, when Nitin Bhandari and Erik Swenson started Skyfire, the idea that Tier One mobile network operators would entrust the cloud for core network roles was considered bleeding edge. Now it’s a topic everyone is talking about, and Skyfire is making NFV combined with Software Defined Networking a reality.
Opera and Skyfire are a natural fit. Both companies have extensive focus on operator products well beyond our well-known consumer web browsers, with complementary geographic strengths (Skyfire in North America, Opera globally and especially across the entire developing world). Skyfire brings cutting-edge products like Rocket Optimizer and Skyfire Horizon that are proven in commercial deployment, and signed customers including 3 of the largest U.S. wireless operators. Our technology in video, app optimization, and mobile browser personalization for smartphones and tablets extend Opera’s portfolio into high-growth areas.
Together, we’re stronger. Opera has an incredible global distribution network, beloved global brand, and customer relationships with Mobile Operators and consumers around the world. Furthermore, Opera Mediaworks will give us access to a world class mobile monetization and ad network sister company. Together we can accelerate the commercialization of Skyfire technology, and build new joint products that will be cloud-based and disruptive.
When I came aboard as CEO in 2009, it was my focus to help extend the vision of our founders, and work closely with them to build a team that was passionate, inventive and devoted to solving access and connection problems for the world's wireless users. I’m proud of our team… with only 53 employees here in Silicon Valley we’ve built products that routinely outperform legacy competitors by two-fold to ten-fold in scalability and performance. It’s the team’s hard work and ingenuity that brought us to today.
After closing, I will assume the role of EVP of the Operator Business Unit for Opera. I'll also remain the CEO of Skyfire, and will oversee the joint offerings for Opera across Opera Mini co-branded solutions for operators and Skyfire’s product lines.
As for our consumer products, Skyfire’s web browser products for iOS and Android and Opera's globally-beloved mobile browsers including Opera Mini start out with different audiences—smartphone video junkies for Skyfire, speed and data savings lovers for Opera Mini (all the way down to feature phones and 2G connections). Skyfire consumers who have bought apps from Skyfire will be able to continue enjoying those apps, and the 2013 roadmap for Skyfire direct-to-consumer products continues to include many innovations and investments. Over the long run, we will evaluate how we can bring the best of both companies' products together for the benefit of consumers and their operators. We have long shared an ethos with Opera, which practically invented cloud-based compression and server-side acceleration. Now we look forward to building new products together.
This will be a chance to do more of why we joined Skyfire in the first place. We're passionate. We’re innovators. And true inventors want to build great things, and then they want millions of people around the world to use them. Opera’s over 100 operator customers, and their 300 million active monthly users provide a chance for Skyfire technology to find a larger global stage.
Earlier in my career, as some people may know, I worked for years on economic development in emerging markets. When I joined Skyfire as CEO almost 4 years ago, I had a vision that school kids in a village or a megacity in Africa or India or South America could gain access, on a cheap smartphone, to all the same learning, knowledge and entertainment available to their more wealthy equivalents in the developed world. They might never own a desktop computer, but they could likely own a smartphone. Thanks to Skyfire's video compression technology, they could get double the usage for their rupees or pesos, and watchable video even on crowded networks. They could participate in the wider world.
By joining forces with Opera, that dream now becomes in reach. Opera is a brand that shares that philosophy. Opera has tremendous reach in so many countries, especially places like Brazil, Russia, India, and China. In some of them, half of all mobile internet usage comes via Opera products. The next billion Internet users will be mobile users. We share the belief of Opera's original founders and employees that access to the web should be a universal right. As so much of the value of today's web comes via video and audio streaming, that belief just gained fresh and renewed relevance for a Web 3.0, mobile-first world.
This is not the end, but the start of a new chapter… Skyfire 3.0. Onward we go.
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