Skyfire: companies need to do a better job streaming mobile video

Mobile video is about to explode in the upcoming year. According to Cisco, video accounts for 52 percent of all mobile data and will rise to 66 percent by 2013. With video conferencing, YouTube and Netflix, this figure isn’t surprising. What is surprising is that companies are doing remarkably little to help wireless carriers balance this consumption. Without some balance, this increase in data threatens to choke our mobile broadband connection in the upcoming years.

Carriers are trying to control consumption with metered data plans that restrict usage to 2 GB per month, but according to a recent Skyfire report, there’s another way. Companies can use adaptive bit rate technology (ABR) which streams video at various quality settings depending on the connection. ABR is an easy to way to adjust the video output to the speed of the connection and not try to push too much data through the pipes.

Skyfire surveyed online video sites and found only 17 percent of online video publishers and 26 percent of iPhone apps use adaptive bit rate technology (ABR). It’s an easy solution to manage video streaming, but expensive which is why companies have been slow to adopt it. ABR is not only useful for carriers, it’ll help end users, too. The video quality will adapt to meet your connection, so there are no pauses caused by video buffering. To learn more about this issue, you can read the entire Skyfire report below.


Skyfire Report Finds Only 18 Percent Of Top Mobile Video Publishers Use Adaptive Video Technology, Increasing Network Congestion Across The Board

Skyfire’s myth busting data shows mobile video publishers degrading user experience by shunning adaptive bit rate technology

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. (December 14, 2011) – Today Skyfire, the company famous for its cloud mobile video solutions, is debuting the Skyfire Myth Buster reports, a series of studies revolving around the challenges facing wireless carriers and mobile video. The first report, published today, surveys the top 100 global video websites on their use of Adaptive Bit Rate (ABR) – a technology that, if adopted on a wide scale, could dramatically ease the mobile data tsunami in the years to come. Unfortunately, Skyfire’s findings do not bode well: the survey shows only 18 percent of the top 100 global video sites employ ABR tactics.

According to Cisco, video currently takes up 52 percent of all mobile data and will grow to 66 percent by 2013. Operators across the world are struggling to keep up with demand while continuing to offer a high quality video streaming experiences. In order to easy mobile network congestion, commentators have looked to the app and video publisher community to adopt smart bandwidth methods such as ABR.  With ABR, each video can be streamed in a variety of quality options, and depending on network conditions and device feedback, the video switches up or down in quality to avoid pauses, hiccups, and video buffering.

Skyfire’s research has found some surprising results related to use of Adaptive Bit Rate:

· On the iPhone, just 10 percent of mobile publishers have adopted Adaptive Bit Rate streaming, as of November 2011, on iPhone web sites and apps.

·On desktop/laptop websites (laptops are around half the data load thanks to 3G/4G dongles), 17 percent of top 100 websites with video used ABR formats.

· 26 percent of iPhone apps for those top 100 digital brands, where available, used ABR with multiple bit rates.

· Across the board, 17-18 percent of top publishers use ABR.

“The data from our ABR testing shows that the technology is far from being adopted as rapidly as some in the industry had hoped,” said Skyfire CEO Jeffrey Glueck. “The implication here is clear: Operators need to look into all the possible tools, including Wi-Fi offload, metered data pricing, 4G network build outs, and in-network optimization solutions. Every tool will be needed to handle the data tsunami, and ABR is only one small part of that.”

Skyfire conducted a similar study in April 2011 and adoption rates have barely increased since then. For websites, only 11 percent of the publishers used ABR delivery, even though ABR options have been available for years.  On Android, none of the publishers used ABR delivery, as no reliable ABR mechanism is yet available on Android. For iPhone apps and websites, 18 percent used the Apple HTTP Live Streaming ABR standard, which is available thanks to the Apple embedded media player.

Cheaper video encoding options like MP4 have come to dominate mobile and desktop video delivery. From Skyfire estimates, over 70 percent of iOS video, and 50 percent of web video bandwidth, runs via MP4—which is a non-adaptive format. While Skyfire believes that ABR use will increase in coming years, these figures should make operators pause before they sit back and rely on the hope that mobile video providers self police. Finally, the rise of HTML5, which currently has no ABR standard, and favors the Progressive Download with the HTML5 video tag, further works against ABR use in coming years.

For more information on Skyfire’s Myth Buster Series, visit:

Visit for up-to-date product information and technical background (such as whitepapers and briefing reports) on its carrier-grade offerings.

About Skyfire:

Skyfire is dedicated to leveraging the power of cloud computing to improve radically the mobile Internet experience for both Operators and Consumers.  Skyfire’s solutions provide game-changing cost savings, better end-user experiences, and compelling incremental revenue opportunities. Skyfire was recently recognized as no. 4 on Light Reading’s 2011 Startups to Watch list; and by OnMobile as a Top 100 Private Company.


Skyfire has honed its technology through a variety of consumer apps, as both a laboratory and showcase for new capabilities. With over 9 million downloads to date, Skyfire’s mobile browser was named the no. 2 Android app of all time by TechCrunch and the no. 3 Android App of all time by Yahoo/Appolicious. Skyfire’s iPhone and iPad browsers each reached the no. 1 selling app rank shortly after launch in 2010 on the Apple App StoreTM as the first way for iOS users to access videos designed for the Adobe® Flash® Player.


Skyfire is based in Mountain View, Calif., in the heart of Silicon Valley, with backing from VCs Matrix Partners, Trinity Partners, and Lightspeed Venture Partners. For more information, visit, or follow Skyfire on Twitter at

  • If Skyfire is worried about video congestion why not taking your product out of the AppStore?

    Skyfire is nothing but Apple’s way to make its consumers pay in order to watch Youtube and other Flash videos that are free everywhere else and of course Apple takes 30% of everything Skyfire makes. 

    Got to admit, evil but genius! 

    Except the overhead, every time you watch a Flash video from Skyfire on iOS they take the video from the initial website, send it to their server, transcode it on their server then send it back to you in a format Apple likes. And who pay for all of that? YOU, when you buy Skyfire from AppStore!!

Back to top ▴