This morning, Amazon announced a whole new lineup of Kindle e-readers as well as the new Kindle Fire, their take on a media centric tablet. One of their major innovations is the Fire’s web browser, dubbed Silk. In short, Amazon offloads page loading to their Amazon Web Services (AWS) allowing sites to appear super-fast on your Fire. Here is Amazon’s explanation.
Ben Brooks at The Brooks Review:
Amazon has just given every web developer a way to make incredible fast and targeted sites for the Kindle Fire. That’s clever. That’s a company that gets it.
Jonathan Christopher at Monday By Noon:
I don’t like this trend. As a front end developer, to do my job respectably, I should have appropriate versions of modern Web browsers for testing purposes. That’s all well and good on the software end, browsers are free.
The trouble comes in when you need to buy a piece of hardware for the sake of running a free piece of software.
Brooks is coming at this as a user while Christopher is looking at it as a developer, so it’s unsurprising that they’re saying the exact opposite thing. The fear is that every tablet maker will start making a custom-built browser with new standards and new problems. The fact is, however, that no one but Amazon has this kind of vertical ability. CEO Jeff Bezos put it best when talking about AWS today, “In terms of market share, Amazon is Coke and there isn’t yet a Pepsi.” Zing.
No one but Amazon can deploy a cloud-based browser like Silk on this scale except Amazon, at least not today. Still, Jonathan does have a point. The more browsers, the more devices, the harder it becomes to program and design sites. But, to Ben’s point, if it makes for a better user experience, then who cares?
Personally, I’d be more concerned with the privacy implications of Silk. Every Kindle is linked to an Amazon account, which means it has to be linked to a Credit Card, which means your real identity is linked to your device. Now every site you visit is cached on Amazon’s drives? It better be some fast browser to make that tradeoff worth it.