Skyfire acquires Kolbysoft, developers of the popular Steel browser for Android

Considering how many times I’ve written about it, it probably goes without saying that I’m a fan of Skyfire. By way of server-side magic (read: proxied data compression), it’s still the only smartphone browser that can reliably play both Flash and Silverlight content. Its only fault? It’s only available for Windows Mobile and Symbian S60.

The company has plans to expand to other platforms, and they’ve just made an acquisition to help get that done. Today, Skyfire is announcing that they’ve acquired kolbysoft, makers of the popular Steel browser for Android, for an undisclosed amount.

When we asked, Skyfire disclosed that the primary reason for this purchase was “talent” – more specifically, kolbysoft’s skill “at building on top of WebKit”. WebKit is the open-source browser rendering engine used in a huge number of popular smartphone browsers, including Safari and the default browsers on both webOS and Android. Skyfire has thus far relied on a different (and reputedly slower/more complicated) rendering engine called Gecko; with this acquisition, it’s safe to assume that the Android port of Skyfire will be WebKit-based.

As far as I can tell, kolbysoft is a one-man operation, with most of Steel’s development happening at the hands of Michael Kolb. Steel is the self-proclaimed “browser to show to your friends with the other phone”, and, according to Cyrket, one of the Top 100 most popular applications on the Android market.

So when can we expect Skyfire to hit Android? Sooner than we could before, presumably – but that’s all we know, for now. While Skyfire would say that its development was well underway, they weren’t willing to disclose just how far along the project was, nor give a tentative release date.