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One day after overwhelming demand drove Skyfire from Apple's App Store, the Flash-playing iPhone browser returned in limited quantities.
Skyfire Labs, makers of the popular software, brought the browser back to the App Store Friday, but warned that it would be released in "batches." Once a certain number of downloads was reached, Skyfire Labs would suspend availability until its servers had digested the additional workload.
"We are taking this approach because Skyfire believes a good user experience should come first, and we would rather have fewer, happier customers, and add new users as we can support them," Jeff Glueck, chief executive of Skyfire Labs, said in the company's blog.
Skyfire Labs pulled its namesake application from the App Store after only a five-hour debut. With the number of downloads growing rapidly, Skyfire Labs was forced to remove the application, or risk having its server and bandwidth capacity overwhelmed.
Skyfire Labs' capacity problems are due to how its technology handles Adobe's Flash technology, which is used across the web to view video and other content, but is not supported natively in the iPhone. The Skyfire browser doesn't actually run Flash. Instead, Flash content is decoded first on Skyfire Lab's servers into HTML5 on the fly and then delivered to the handset. The proxy-based system has received positive reviews for performance.
Skyfire's popularity is an indication of Flash's importance for playing online video. Nevertheless, Apple is pushing HTML5, a relatively new technology, as a better alternative, claiming Flash hurts the performance of the iPhone and uses up too much battery power. Adobe denies the claims.
Despite its refusal to support Flash, Apple recognizes its ubiquity on the web. In September, the company changed its iOS 4.0 developer agreement to allow the use of just about any programming tool, including the Adobe Flash Packager for the iPhone. IOS is the operating system used in the iPhone.