Advancing a Free Society

Will Jeff Bezos Bring Feudal Security to the Net?

Saturday, October 1, 2011

The Kindle Fire is a remarkable innovation in the Apple mold:  taking a bunch of components that are pretty well known and combining them into a powerful new experience.  But unlike Apple, Amazon’s integrating vision isn’t visual design or even user delight.  Instead it’s far more ambitious -- a new vision of the entire Internet ecosystem.

OK, let me try that again without the Valley babble.  The Kindle Fire forks Android into an Amazon-designed and Amazon–controlled operating system.  So far, no surprises. Amazon owns and subsidizes the hardware, too, so it can design features that integrate operating system and processor tightly.  Again, nothing that Apple can’t do.  But then comes the clever, almost-new idea:  Fire uses its own browser, called Silk, which is designed to work with Amazon’s massive cloud computer.  So instead of downloading web pages one after the other and opening them on your computer, Amazon’s cloud stores and even opens them, sending you the end result.  This allows speedier downloads for a couple of reasons:  Caching of popular pages (or even parts of pages) avoids download delays when the original source is overloaded; and Amazon’s cloud can handle even the most processor-intense pages instantaneously, far faster than your wheezing desktop machine.  In short, your Internet experience on the Fire ought to be lightning quick.

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