Skyfire buys Kolbysoft to make an Android browser

The deal will bring in Webkit-based technology from Kolbysoft's Steel Android browser

Skyfire plans to extend its browser to the Android mobile platform after acquiring Kolbysoft, the maker of the Steel browser interface for Android.

Skyfire is a free mobile browser that uses cloud-based processing to deliver a full Web experience, including Adobe Flash and Microsoft Silverlight content. So far it has been available only for the Windows Mobile and Symbian Series 60 operating systems.

Steel is a free browser based on the Webkit architecture that is designed to provide a more user-friendly interface for browsing on Android devices. It is distributed through the Android Marketplace and is currently in version 0.1.9.

Both companies are privately held and did not share the terms of the deal, which is already complete. Michael Kolb, founder of Kolbysoft, will become chief client architect for all of Skyfire's browsers, Skyfire said.

Skyfire said it will use Kolbysoft technology to develop a version of its browser for Android. That operating system has been gaining ground on the competition, including Windows Mobile and Symbian, with recent high-profile introductions such as the Motorola Droid and Google Nexus One.

First introduced in late 2008, Android had already captured 4.7 percent of worldwide smartphone shipments in 2009, according to recent estimates by research firm Canalys.

In addition to fast delivery of Web pages with multimedia, Skyfire includes tools for simultaneously conducting searches on multiple search engines and for posting content to multiple social-networking services, including Facebook and Twitter.

Users of Steel will be offered upgrades to the new Android version once it is released, but will be able to continue using the current version of Steel, according to Skyfire.

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