Friday 15 February 2013

Opera takes over Skyfire Labs for its video optimisation software

Opera Software has announced that it has bought over Skyfire Labs, best known for creating the widely used Skyfire web browser for iOS and Android, for $155 million.

The crux of this deal is Skyfire's Rocket Optimizer that allows mobile operators to leverage cloud computing to optimise virtually any video and other multimedia on crowded cell towers, including 3G and 4G LTE networks.

Opera says that Skyfire can detect when specific users are facing poor quality of experience or connections that need assistance, and intervene in "millisecond" by adjusting its quality. The company believes this will be increasingly important as the web tries to contain a large number of videos

Skyfire also licenses Skyfire Horizon besides Rocket Optimizer to three large US mobile providers and is in trials with ten other operators around the world. The Skyfire Horizon is a browser extension and toolbar platform that allows users to personalise their smartphone browser and operators to gain opportunities for monetisation. Opera says that Skyfire has worked towards building "top-selling" consumer applications that have seen more than 20 million worldwide downloads till date.

“Opera and Skyfire are a natural fit,” said Lars Boilesen, CEO of Opera Software. “Both companies have evolved far beyond their browser roots. Skyfire adds capabilities to our portfolio around video, app optimisation, smartphones and tablets, and strength in North America. With video expected to consume over two-thirds of global mobile bandwidth by 2015, and as time spent on Android and iOS apps explodes, we are excited to extend Opera’s solutions for operators.”

The two companies are hoping to create a powerful new set of joint products to be released over the coming year by combining their talents and know-how. In particular, they look to expand on Opera’s Web Pass offering, which allows consumers to purchase data plans such as an unlimited "day pass" of popular apps and web sites. This day pass will be affordable, assures Opera. The companies also hope that WebPass can enable new business models for operators on the lines of toll free data, ad-supported data and more.

The deal is expected to close before March 13. After it closes, Glueck will assume the role of EVP of the Operator Business for Opera, as well as CEO of Skyfire, and will oversee the joint offerings for Opera across Opera Mini co-brand solutions for Operators and Skyfire’s product lines. Skyfire will remain an independent entity as a wholly-owned subsidiary of Opera and will continue to develop and support the Skyfire browser.

Opera had been in the news earlier this week too for hitting the figure of 300 million monthly users. The company commemorated the occasion by officially embracing WebKit and Chromium to build its iOS and Android apps.

The Norwegian company wrote in its blog post that it would be showcasing its WebKit-based Android browser at the Mobile World Congress, which is coming up in a few weeks. Opera said that it will also be gradually making the WebKit shift to desktop browsers too.

"The WebKit engine is already very good, and we aim to take part in making it even better. It supports the standards we care about, and it has the performance we need," said CTO of Opera Software, HÃ¥kon Wium Lie, about this shift.

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