At $199, the Amazon Fire stands to be shift the whole tablet market into a new (cheaper) place. But everything has a cost…
To be fair, the Fire has a lot of potential: it’s less than half the price of the iPad, and that 7.5″ screen is interesting: it’ll be lighter and more comfortable for one handed use. But it’s real use is to be a front end for the amazon store… the iPad always was meant to be a front end to Apple’s stores… but it was always much more than that. You can easily use an iPad without ever paying an additional penny to Apple. But the Fire doesn’t even ship with an email client!
As I look at Silk and it’s just making me nervous. Silk is the tech amazon has built to pre-render? to pre-cache? web pages on the massive AWS/EC2/S3 network (the same network that I”m using to actually host this very web page in fact. But the real question is: why?
There’s good reasons to cache content: a hefty web page might have a hundred unique HTTP requests on it which can really bog down render time, particularly on machines with slower net connections. But the Fire isn’t a 3G device, it’s a Wi-Fi device, and isn’t pretty much EVERYTHING
a Wi-Fi device now? But Silk could easily cache 80% of the net, and reduce a 100 request page load to a single package cached.
Another possibility is that the CPU in the fire is slow, and you could offload larger computational tasks to the vast army of idling CPUs in the cloud. I don’t really buy that… several year old cell phones can render web pages just fine. And while my first gen iPad isn’t the fastest web device I own, it’s real speed problems are usually scrolling complicated pages… the video card is the problem, not necessarily the CPU.
No the question comes down to security. To privacy. And to the ultimate question: Why is this better?
Proxy servers present a host of problems for web masters. I used to track a massive database of them because you need to be able to tell them apart. There’s a difference between, say, a cube farm in Iowa, and the block of IPs used by a giant search engine. And worse still is when you factor in anonymizing IPs like Tor. It’s important to be aware of these things and have a sort of a fingerprint to tell the difference between each of them.
There are a number of legitimate large scale proxies out there. Entire nations run through them (and not just ones like China!) But also I occasionally bumped into networks that represented massive blocks of users from a particular cell phone.
Of course, abuse isn’t that likely from a cell phone: the really malicious users out there need access to developer tools to engage in their true mischief.
But if the Fire becomes widely adopted, web masters will start seeing large blocks of anonymous traffic arriving from this mysterious network of amazon IPs. Being unable to distinguish one anonymous user from another, you’ll have to be very careful of large scale anonymous attacks that could be launched via the network.
I ask the more serious question: do you really want all your packets flowing through amazon? Do you think they would slow down the packets to barnes & noble? Do you want to be reliant on their systems to be stable and fast so that you can use your device? Is that worth saving a couple hundred bucks?
It might be to a lot of folks, but I don’t think it is for me. Then again, the B&W kindles got a price cut, and I finally think it might be time for me to get my hands on one.