April 21, 2011 | by Andrew Kameka
Skyfire has introduced 4.0 of its popular Android browser, and the company is adopting a freemium business model in the process. While previous Skyfire users will not notice any change on their current device, new Skyfire users will have to pay a one-time fee of $2.99 to unlock the video feature. The ability to watch Flash video content without actually running Flash on your phone – Skyfire converts video in the cloud and streams to the device – will require an in-app purchase for new users or people who switch devices. (The Verizon VCast will offer this free for a limited time.)
Version 4.0 of Skyfire also comes loaded to with several new features. The SkyBar is now a customizable, scrollable toolbar that can be set to display content to the user’s liking. You can reposition or remove certain functions, so Facebook haters can disable that option on SkyBar and replace it with one of these new Skybar buttons: Twitter, Groupon, Share, Google Reader, Sports, News, Finance, or Settings. All of these new content options are aimed at making Skyfire for Android phones and tablets a more unique experience than what someone will find in the default browser.
Whether fans will pay money for that remains to be seen. Skyfire has become quite popular because it provided an excellent browser for free. The beta app was downloaded more than 3 million times thanks to its clever design and ability to compress web video that was otherwise inaccessible. The upgrades and new features are still very enticing, so the app is likely to remain popular even for people not interested in unlocking the premium video feature.