Skyfire iPhone, iPad App Is 'Sold Out'

Apple iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch users can now view Flash video, thanks to the Skyfire 2.0 app. Unfortunately, it's temporarily not available, due to massive demand.

Apple iPhone, iPad and iPod touch owners have made their opinions of Adobe Systems' Flash technology clear: They want it.

Following the introduction to the Apple App Store of a Skyfire 2.0 app that acts as an Internet browser than can play Flash video on Apple's devices, Skyfire Labs posted an apology on its blog, stating that due to "unbelievable enthusiasm" it's "effectively -sold out' and will temporarily not accept new purchases through the App Store."

Within five hours of offering the app - which sells for $2.99 - it became the top-grossing application, the third-highest paid overall, and the top app in the Utilities category, Robert Oberhofer shared on the Skyfire blog.

"Despite our best attempts and predictions, the demand far exceeds our initial projections," wrote Oberhofer. "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."

Apple gave Skyfire 2.0 its blessing in a Nov. 3 press release introducing the mobile browser, which it says is built on the same WebKit as Apple's Safari browser, but bridges the gap between Apple and Adobe technologies by offering three "key elements" that Safari leaves out.

It offers an Explore icon that brings relevant Internet content to a user, based on the context of the Web page being viewed. Second, there's a Share icon that lets users do exactly that with articles or videos via Facebook, Twitter and email. The third element, though, is the one that has Skyfire's servers buzzing: video.

"The [Skyfire 2.0] video icon allows users to view the millions of videos designed for Flash Player previously unavailable on iOS devices," the company explained in the release. "Skyfire does this by translating the videos and bringing them to the native iPhone media player using the H.264 video codec."

Though note, when the company says video, it means video-the app can't help out iOS users when it comes to games or animations.

Apple's decision to do without Flash technology is a well-publicized decision of CEO Steve Jobs, who's called Flash a "CPU hog" and "old technology," and in the weeks before the iPad's launch solicited major media outlets to instead use the H.264 video compression standard. Some did, but a good many didn't-or haven't yet.

"Apple has this thing against Flash, the Web's most popular video format; says it's buggy, it's not secure and depletes the battery," The New York Times tech critic wrote in his review of the iPad. "Well, fine, but meanwhile, thousands of Web sites show up with empty white squares on the iPad-places where videos or animations are supposed to play."

Skyfire hopes to change that.

"Users don't think about what video technology a site uses. They just want the video to play," said Skyfire CEO Jeff Glueck, in the statement. "With this workaround, Skyfire makes playback possible, while also optimizing the video for mobile screens and networks. That makes it easier to fit video through congested cell towers, saves battery life, and helps users conserve megabytes in their data plan."

It also leaves users with a lot fewer of those annoying white squares.