Yeah, forget the Skyfire S60 browser

I posted a note last night about 100 beta invitations for the S60 version of the Skyfire browser. Forget that.

Strike it from your memory. Screw it, with bells on.

You can’t actually get the beta, if you’re in the UK, Europe or anywhere other than America. Which is one of the dumbest things that Skyfire has dreamed up. In the email I received from their truly efficient PR, there was a note about a text message being sent to American numbers only. I didn’t dream think that this actually effected the actual sign-up process. No one would be that stupid.

Or so I thought.

I’m particularly annoyed because I look like a total arse, proffering invitations to Mobile Industry Review’s readers — the vast majority of them, serious Nokia-heads, keen to see what Skyfire was on about. I’ve begun writing to everyone that’s emailed me asking what I was thinking publishing, to quote one reader, ‘such drivel’. ‘It doesn’t work outside America??’ and ‘Skyfire = dumb’, are another quotes.

It’s a pretty shit hot browser. But it’s — like UIQ — heading for the way of the dodo, if the American-centric mindset is going to continue. It needs to be implemented now. Not tomorrow, not next week and not in 6 months. Limited patience.

We should, I think, follow Skyfire’s example. If you’re not in America, ignore it. If you are in America, get an iPhone.

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24 Responses to Yeah, forget the Skyfire S60 browser

  1. MarkW August 6, 2008 at 3:32 am #

    Hey Ewan, look on the bright side – you can't be blamed for being excited by a development that almost your entire readership is (was?) excited about. All you did was try and get it to us ASAP, with mucho enthusiasm. I was as disappointed as anyone that they're still living within geographical borders – even though their sign-up method, SMS, screams “take me global, NOW!”. Dumb Skyfire people.

  2. bitflung August 6, 2008 at 10:07 am #

    i'm in the USA and already had the beta running before your post… but i used your beta code to get my fiance into the beta (not sure if it worked yet).

    i'll say a few things here:
    1. the phone number used doesn't have to be connected to the device you want to install the software on. matter of fact, once you have an account you can move from phone to phone if you wish – and nothing seems to stop you from moving to a UK mobile, etc.

    2. i believe the reason for limiting the service to the usa is legal, not political, technical, etc. they render the site on their servers far more than, say, opera does. in fact, it seems to me that the mobile software is little more than a VNC client or more correctly (i think) a remote-X client – rendering a firefox session running on a remote server. there are problems hosting a service like this in the USA and offering it to foreign users – privacy issues for one (want the CIA snooping on your users? then offer the service to everyone in the world and watch as the POatriot Act or other ridiculous excuse is used to request you users' data. now try your best to avoid the privacy debacle that ensues when you are confronted about this. it's a private beta, and it makes sense to avoid these issue for now).

    3. want skyfire? get a USA mobile number? how? i don't know… maybe i'd try signing up for truphone, getting the 425-area code number they provide and using THAT for registration. your number needs to be unique, and the SMS they send can't result in an error response… but it doesn't really matter if you ever receive (or delete) the sms they send – it's not tied to your account in any manner.
    – or get a gizmo callin number for a few bucks, or skype in, or anything that won't result in a failed sms response when they send the sms out to you.

  3. norcalbarney August 6, 2008 at 11:34 am #

    It's not all sunny for us US users. The problem I've run into is… I already signed up for the Skyfire Beta before all the bloggers gave out their Super Secret Codes to get into the beta invite. Then when I went back to sign up, Skyfire said my information was already registered. Sorry, Skyfire. I'm not that interested! : )

  4. smstextnews August 6, 2008 at 11:37 am #

    Ah dear

  5. DanLane August 6, 2008 at 12:00 pm #

    Really? it's a remote X-Session? that explains a lot about the brief session I had with an N95 8GB running SkyFire.

    Three words: IT. WON'T. SCALE!

  6. smstextnews August 6, 2008 at 12:04 pm #

    Uh oh

  7. DanLane August 6, 2008 at 12:19 pm #

    Very quick back of fag packet calculations… Opera claim to have more than 44 million people using Opera Mini… even if Skyfire end up with 0.5% of that as active users that's 220,000 simultaneous hosted browser sessions. Skyfire is far better than Opera Mini (remember, I'm not saying it's a bad product, I'm saying it doesn't scale) so you can expect them to steal far more than 0.5% of Opera's users (Skyfire claim they won't be charging for the product).

    No wonder they are restricting their beta users!

  8. ollysk2 August 6, 2008 at 3:07 pm #

    You aren't missing anything, seriously. At least not until they are beyond what I would call an Alpha, not Beta, release. This thing sucks, as in causes-your-device-to-spontaneously-reboot-while-never-correctly-rendering-sites-anyway sucks.

    Installed. Fired up. Crashed device. Repeat process until frustration ensued. Uninstall. (welcome to 5 minutes of my life).

    -olly

  9. bitflung August 6, 2008 at 3:17 pm #

    whoa – hold your horses for a second there!
    look carefully at my post: “seems to me that the mobile software is little more than a VNC client or more correctly (i think) a remote-X client – rendering a firefox session running on a remote server.”

    1. the software SEEMS to ACT in this fashion – it's an educated guess at the base they started with. and it makes sense to me (as a computer engineer) that the implementations of X and Firefox could be significantly reduced to meet the needs they are trying to address.

    2. this does NOT MEAN it won't scale. however, like Opera with their -mini browser, i'm sure they're investing a lot of mental-effort into ensuring scalability.

    3. if i'm wrong about the base technology, then we know nothing. if i'm right all we know is the basic premise of what the client is responsible for, and what the server is responsible for.

    4. if all of their users are watching, say, WMV videos (which are rendered on the server side) then i'd say video transcoding would be their limiting factor in scalability long before multiple firefox session, or even full X-client sessions. VIDEO is the killer app for skyfire and it is VIDEO that i see as the biggest bottleneck

    5. lastly, since the server renders the page, you are essentially browsing through a proxy. ie: webservers will think you are browsing from the skyfire server's ip address. this was an additional LEGAL point i meant to bring up in my previous post, but i see i left it out (i had to re-read my post to make sure i didn't falsely claim that i knew exactly how skyfire does their business). anyways, if skyfire existed in, say, the UK – then they'd have a debacle on their hands by giving me access to iPlayer from the states. likewise, foreign connections to the skyfire servers may have to be limited until a geographical service arbitrator is setup. should be good news for you: i imagine that they'd tie this into your account and possibly the version of the skyfire software you're running (read: brits might be able to watch iPlayer even while travelling abroad in the USA, despite iPlayer not allowing americans to use iPlayer)

    ok. i'm done.

  10. bitflung August 6, 2008 at 3:26 pm #

    what device did you test it on?

    i've had reboots, typically at the end of a browsing session when i exit the software normally – after exiting my N95 sometimes reboots (it's happened to me 2 or 3 times – i've watched a couple full-length movies, a dozen full episodes of tv shows,a dn browsed fairly extensively in the past couple weeks — ie: 2 or 3 times is not very frequent).

    so, i'd have to say you've got some kind of unique issue there olly. i haven't seem the same comment in the symbian forums at skyfire, and i haven't experienced it myself. are you using windows mobile maybe? i wouldn't be surprised if a winmo beta app reached out and poked you in the eye — but skyfire for symbian has been fairly well behaved for me. at least considering it's in a private beta.

    -bit

  11. ollysk2 August 6, 2008 at 3:47 pm #

    Using an N95-3 (the North American version of the N95). Device is fine
    otherwise with the bunch of other apps I have installed, just had massive
    issues with Skyfire, which was disappointing!

  12. ollysk2 August 6, 2008 at 4:07 pm #

    You aren't missing anything, seriously. At least not until they are beyond what I would call an Alpha, not Beta, release. This thing sucks, as in causes-your-device-to-spontaneously-reboot-while-never-correctly-rendering-sites-anyway sucks.

    Installed. Fired up. Crashed device. Repeat process until frustration ensued. Uninstall. (welcome to 5 minutes of my life).

    -olly

  13. bitflung August 6, 2008 at 4:17 pm #

    whoa – hold your horses for a second there!
    look carefully at my post: “seems to me that the mobile software is little more than a VNC client or more correctly (i think) a remote-X client – rendering a firefox session running on a remote server.”

    1. the software SEEMS to ACT in this fashion – it's an educated guess at the base they started with. and it makes sense to me (as a computer engineer) that the implementations of X and Firefox could be significantly reduced to meet the needs they are trying to address.

    2. this does NOT MEAN it won't scale. however, like Opera with their -mini browser, i'm sure they're investing a lot of mental-effort into ensuring scalability.

    3. if i'm wrong about the base technology, then we know nothing. if i'm right all we know is the basic premise of what the client is responsible for, and what the server is responsible for.

    4. if all of their users are watching, say, WMV videos (which are rendered on the server side) then i'd say video transcoding would be their limiting factor in scalability long before multiple firefox session, or even full X-client sessions. VIDEO is the killer app for skyfire and it is VIDEO that i see as the biggest bottleneck

    5. lastly, since the server renders the page, you are essentially browsing through a proxy. ie: webservers will think you are browsing from the skyfire server's ip address. this was an additional LEGAL point i meant to bring up in my previous post, but i see i left it out (i had to re-read my post to make sure i didn't falsely claim that i knew exactly how skyfire does their business). anyways, if skyfire existed in, say, the UK – then they'd have a debacle on their hands by giving me access to iPlayer from the states. likewise, foreign connections to the skyfire servers may have to be limited until a geographical service arbitrator is setup. should be good news for you: i imagine that they'd tie this into your account and possibly the version of the skyfire software you're running (read: brits might be able to watch iPlayer even while travelling abroad in the USA, despite iPlayer not allowing americans to use iPlayer)

    ok. i'm done.

  14. bitflung August 6, 2008 at 4:26 pm #

    what device did you test it on?

    i've had reboots, typically at the end of a browsing session when i exit the software normally – after exiting my N95 sometimes reboots (it's happened to me 2 or 3 times – i've watched a couple full-length movies, a dozen full episodes of tv shows,a dn browsed fairly extensively in the past couple weeks — ie: 2 or 3 times is not very frequent).

    so, i'd have to say you've got some kind of unique issue there olly. i haven't seem the same comment in the symbian forums at skyfire, and i haven't experienced it myself. are you using windows mobile maybe? i wouldn't be surprised if a winmo beta app reached out and poked you in the eye — but skyfire for symbian has been fairly well behaved for me. at least considering it's in a private beta.

    -bit

  15. ollysk2 August 6, 2008 at 4:47 pm #

    Using an N95-3 (the North American version of the N95). Device is fine
    otherwise with the bunch of other apps I have installed, just had massive
    issues with Skyfire, which was disappointing!

  16. matthew bennett August 6, 2008 at 5:34 pm #

    It's not all sunny for us US users. The problem I've run into is… I already signed up for the Skyfire Beta before all the bloggers gave out their Super Secret Codes to get into the beta invite. Then when I went back to sign up, Skyfire said my information was already registered. Sorry, Skyfire. I'm not that interested! : )

  17. Ewan August 6, 2008 at 5:37 pm #

    Ah dear

  18. DanLane August 6, 2008 at 6:00 pm #

    Really? it's a remote X-Session? that explains a lot about the brief session I had with an N95 8GB running SkyFire.

    Three words: IT. WON'T. SCALE!

  19. Ewan August 6, 2008 at 6:04 pm #

    Uh oh

  20. DanLane August 6, 2008 at 6:19 pm #

    Very quick back of fag packet calculations… Opera claim to have more than 44 million people using Opera Mini… even if Skyfire end up with 0.5% of that as active users that's 220,000 simultaneous hosted browser sessions. Skyfire is far better than Opera Mini (remember, I'm not saying it's a bad product, I'm saying it doesn't scale) so you can expect them to steal far more than 0.5% of Opera's users (Skyfire claim they won't be charging for the product).

    No wonder they are restricting their beta users!

  21. ollysk2 August 6, 2008 at 9:07 pm #

    You aren't missing anything, seriously. At least not until they are beyond what I would call an Alpha, not Beta, release. This thing sucks, as in causes-your-device-to-spontaneously-reboot-while-never-correctly-rendering-sites-anyway sucks.

    Installed. Fired up. Crashed device. Repeat process until frustration ensued. Uninstall. (welcome to 5 minutes of my life).

    -olly

  22. bitflung August 6, 2008 at 9:17 pm #

    whoa – hold your horses for a second there!
    look carefully at my post: “seems to me that the mobile software is little more than a VNC client or more correctly (i think) a remote-X client – rendering a firefox session running on a remote server.”

    1. the software SEEMS to ACT in this fashion – it's an educated guess at the base they started with. and it makes sense to me (as a computer engineer) that the implementations of X and Firefox could be significantly reduced to meet the needs they are trying to address.

    2. this does NOT MEAN it won't scale. however, like Opera with their -mini browser, i'm sure they're investing a lot of mental-effort into ensuring scalability.

    3. if i'm wrong about the base technology, then we know nothing. if i'm right all we know is the basic premise of what the client is responsible for, and what the server is responsible for.

    4. if all of their users are watching, say, WMV videos (which are rendered on the server side) then i'd say video transcoding would be their limiting factor in scalability long before multiple firefox session, or even full X-client sessions. VIDEO is the killer app for skyfire and it is VIDEO that i see as the biggest bottleneck

    5. lastly, since the server renders the page, you are essentially browsing through a proxy. ie: webservers will think you are browsing from the skyfire server's ip address. this was an additional LEGAL point i meant to bring up in my previous post, but i see i left it out (i had to re-read my post to make sure i didn't falsely claim that i knew exactly how skyfire does their business). anyways, if skyfire existed in, say, the UK – then they'd have a debacle on their hands by giving me access to iPlayer from the states. likewise, foreign connections to the skyfire servers may have to be limited until a geographical service arbitrator is setup. should be good news for you: i imagine that they'd tie this into your account and possibly the version of the skyfire software you're running (read: brits might be able to watch iPlayer even while travelling abroad in the USA, despite iPlayer not allowing americans to use iPlayer)

    ok. i'm done.

  23. bitflung August 6, 2008 at 9:26 pm #

    what device did you test it on?

    i've had reboots, typically at the end of a browsing session when i exit the software normally – after exiting my N95 sometimes reboots (it's happened to me 2 or 3 times – i've watched a couple full-length movies, a dozen full episodes of tv shows,a dn browsed fairly extensively in the past couple weeks — ie: 2 or 3 times is not very frequent).

    so, i'd have to say you've got some kind of unique issue there olly. i haven't seem the same comment in the symbian forums at skyfire, and i haven't experienced it myself. are you using windows mobile maybe? i wouldn't be surprised if a winmo beta app reached out and poked you in the eye — but skyfire for symbian has been fairly well behaved for me. at least considering it's in a private beta.

    -bit

  24. ollysk2 August 6, 2008 at 9:47 pm #

    Using an N95-3 (the North American version of the N95). Device is fine
    otherwise with the bunch of other apps I have installed, just had massive
    issues with Skyfire, which was disappointing!

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