The frenzy surrounding today's Amazon press event was almost Apple-like, an interesting thing to watch from a company not know for flash. Amazon introduced a new line of Kindle ebook readers, and the much-anticipated Kindle Fire tablet. ZDNet has extensive coverage of this new line of Kindles, but the biggest story of the day is not the hardware. It is the Kindle Silk browser, only available on the Fire tablet.
Also: CNET live blog | Amazon’s Bezos unveils Kindle Fire; color tablet computer | Amazon’s Kindle Fire; At $199, finally a viable college tablet | Amazon’s Bezos unveils Kindle Touch, $99; Kindle, $79 | CNET: Amazon unveils trio of Kindle e-ink readers | Looks like Amazon took back the lead for dedicated ebook readers
Amazon has built its own web browser named Silk, that leverages the company's dominance in the cloud business to serve up web pages to the Kindle Fire as fast as possible. The cloud-based page rendering is not new, Opera has been doing this for some time with the Opera Turbo scheme. Where Amazon differs from what has been done previously is made possible by owning and controlling the cloud system (AWS) in play.
This enables Silk to keep a persistent connection open to the Amazon servers. This eliminates background handshaking common to all web browsers, and is as fast as possible according to Amazon given the very fat pipes AWS uses to the web. In one fell swoop, Amazon just revolutionized mobile web browsing in a way no one else can duplicate.
The company explains how the Silk browser works on both a cloud backend and the local device (Fire tablet) levels, with both used to optimize the web page content as displayed on the tablet. The system is written from the ground up for the Kindle Fire, and while Amazon wasn't showing off the browser at today's press event it should be the best mobile browser in existence, properly implemented.
Amazon has perfected the technology used on its shopping site that can accurately predict what products you might be interested in based on the millions of shoppers it serves. It is bringing this same technology to bear on the Silk browser, and claims it can accurately predict what web site you will want to visit before you leave the one you are currently on. This new site will load in the background, just in case you want to go there next. This is not new technology, but Amazon's experience in this type of prediction should be best in class.
The Silk browser with its hidden cloud backend doing the heavy lifting could be the biggest advance the mobile web ever seen. Amazon has set the tablet space on its ear with the low-cost ($199) Kindle Fire, but with the Silk browser exclusive to its tablet may have left all competition in the dirt. It should make the Fire the best way to consume content in general, and the web in particular, and that is what most people want to do on a tablet.