Kindle Fire Silk browser ported to other Android devices: Theft?

Summary:The porting of the Kindle Fire Silk browser to non-Amazon hardware raises the question -- is this theft?

Amazon made a big deal about its Silk browser included on the Kindle Fire, claiming it would speed up web browsing on the Fire. My experience with the browser backs up that claim when connected to the web via a slow connection, but otherwise it is much like other Android browser variants. The homebrew community didn't like the fact that the Silk browser was restricted to the Kindle Fire, and have now ported it to other Android devices. That raises the question -- isn't that stealing the app?

The beauty of Android is how open it is, and how most companies involved let users do pretty much what they want with the software. I'm not sure that applies to the Silk browser, which is developed by Amazon strictly for the Kindle Fire. Porting it to non-Amazon hardware seems to fly in the face of doing what is right. It almost seems like outright theft of proprietary software.

The argument will be made that Amazon is not losing anything since Silk carries no extra cost to Fire owners, but that's pretty weak. Everything has a cost to develop, and this is no different. Since the Silk browser uses Amazon servers to dish out web pages faster than normal, there is an actual cost to the company for every illicit copy in use.

Android may be open but that doesn't mean folks can just take any app on the platform willy-nilly. It seems there is an ethical boundary that has been crossed with this Silk browser port. What do you think? Should any free app on Android devices be fair game to take and put on devices they aren't intended to be run on? Leave a comment and let me know.

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Topics: Hardware, Browser, Mobility

About

James Kendrick has been using mobile devices since they weighed 30 pounds, and has been sharing his insights on mobile technology for almost that long. Prior to joining ZDNet, James was the Founding Editor of jkOnTheRun, a CNET Top 100 Tech Blog that was acquired by GigaOM in 2008 and is now part of that prestigious tech network. James' w... Full Bio

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