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Skyfire Brought Flash Video to iOS, Then Pulled

Wednesday Skyfire offered its popular mobile web browser on Apple's App Store, providing iOS users a way to view Flash-based video by converting the files to HTML5.

The browser previously landed on the Android Market shortly before Google officially released the Flash-enabled Android 2.2 (Froyo) update. As we reported earlier this year, Skyfire proved to work in most cases, sending the Flash video element out to its servers for transcoding and then piping the converted video back to the device. When the browser discovered a Flash video it could convert, the Video section of the browser's Skybar prompted a pop-up window containing its built-in video player. If nothing appeared, then the conversion didn't work.

According to the company, the Skyfire browser has been downloaded from the Android Market more than 1 million times since its release. Although currently labeled as "beta," the browser is free to download and install. However those seeking a mobile alternative to watching Hulu movies and TV shows are out of luck--Hulu is blocking all content.

Surprisingly, Skyfire decided to tack on a $2.99 pricetag for iOS users. Yet just five hours after its launch on the Apps Store, the browser was removed. Five hours. Initially it was believed to be another Apple approval mishap as we've seen countless times before, but Skyfire quickly clarified by reporting that consumer demand far exceeded Skyfire's initial projections.

"The user experience was performing well for the first few hours, but as the surge continued, the peak load on our servers and bandwidth caused the video experience to degrade," the company claims in a blog post. "Thus we are effectively ‘sold out’ and will temporarily not accept new purchases from the App Store. 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."

Due to the browser's Flash-oriented roots, conspiracy theorists may believe otherwise, pointing a finger at Apple. But a bandwidth overload isn't surprising given that iOS users have waited for Flash-based video (albeit converted) for quite some time.

Once Skyfire gets up to speed to handle the heavy load, iOS users should be able to purchase the app by heading here.