Opera boosts video capabilities via €155m Skyfire acquisition

15 Feb 2013

Norwegian software player Opera has acquired Skyfire Labs, a firm specialising in mobile video optimisation, in a deal estimated to be worth up to €155m.

Earlier this week, Opera revealed plans to move its browsers to WebKit and Chromium.

Skyfire, which is headquartered in Mountain View, California, and counts more than 20m downloads of its technology, is known for its Rocket Optimize software. This 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.

Rocket Optimizer, on average, provides mobile networks a 60pc boost in capacity by reducing the size of video and other multimedia content as needed to fit the available bandwidth.

Skyfire can detect when specific users are facing poor quality of experience or connections that need assistance, and intervene in milliseconds. This can minimise the long start times, rebuffering, and stalls on video and audio streams that frustrate mobile users around the world.

Skyfire also created Skyfire Horizon, a mobile browser extension and toolbar platform that allows users to personalise their smartphone browsers and operators to gain new monetisation opportunities.

A natural fit?

“Opera and Skyfire are a natural fit,” said Lars Boilesen, CEO, 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.”

Skyfire currently counts three large US mobile operators as customers for its Rocket Optimizer and Skyfire Horizon solutions, and is in trials with 10 other operators around the world.

“Opera practically invented cloud compression to improve mobile user experience, and the team at Skyfire is proud to join forces and advance cloud solutions together,” said Jeffrey Glueck, CEO of Skyfire. “Opera’s over 100 carrier relationships, global sales team, and delivery organisation can accelerate the global commercialisation of Skyfire’s technology.

“Opera’s Mediaworks advertising unit with AdMarvel, Mobile Theory and 4th Screen Advertising will strengthen Skyfire Horizon by offering mobile operators a complete turnkey solution, including ad optimisation, ad sales, and rich analytics. The synergies across all the product lines for both companies are tremendous.”

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years