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SkyFire beta goes public

Mobile browser war opens new front

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Skyfire, the mobile browser for Nokia S60 and Windows Mobile devices, has broadened its beta testing to include the UK and no longer requires users to register with the service.

Skyfire works by using a proxy server, including a UK-based one, to do all the heavy processing and just renders content on the mobile device. Opera Mini works in much the same way, optimising content through a proxy, but Skyfire takes that further with support for Flash, Java, AJAX and Silverlight, as well as rendering content from YouTube and the BBC's iPlayer.

According to Skyfire this is "the first time you'll be able to view the entire web on your mobile device". You'll have to excuse us if we claim to have heard that before, but at least the company makes no claim to have the whole internet available.

Early betas of Skyfire had problems with stability and clumsy interface components, as well as being limited to US users (at least officially), but these areas have been addressed in the latest version (0.8.5), which apparently offers better zoom control and management of bookmarks.

We say "apparently" as we've not managed to get the beta installed yet - our Windows Mobile device is of the wrong resolution, while the nearest S60 handset won't recognise the Skyfire certificate. But if you have a less esoteric device handy the beta is free to download.

Skyfire would still like you to register with them, offering the opportunity to store your bookmarks and cookies in the cloud and take them between devices - the company is funded with $17.8m of VC capital and is going to want to make money at some point. The use of proxies provides the potential for embedded advertising or a subscription service, though the company will be hoping to charge handset manufacturers to pre-install their browser as the best mobile experience available. ®

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