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Amazon Silk: Pros and Cons

John P. Mello Jr. | Oct. 3, 2011
The release of a new browser these days is more likely to elicit yawns than zeal, but Amazon changed that with the release of Silk for its new Fire tablet. While the fundamental idea of splitting a browser's functions between a mobile device and the cloud has been tried by others, most notably Opera, the Internet's largest retailer has taken that idea to a new scale.

Security is also an issue in Silk. Because you're always interacting with Amazon's cloud, you're never directly interacting with secure websites. So when you log into your bank, for example, that information is given to Amazon, which conveys it to your financial institution. Do you really want Amazon sitting between you and your money?

To Amazon's credit, it allows you to turn off Silk's cloud features and use it like a typical browser. That would address the privacy and security problems that could arise from using the software, but then you'll lose all the advantages of processing browser activity in the cloud.

Another problem with not receiving content directly from a website is that you don't know how long it took Amazon to configure the content it sends to you, or, in the case of cached pages, how long they may have been sitting in the cloud. In addition, there may be times when you don't want compressed content from a website. You may want the 3MB photo served up by the site and not the 30KB version EC2 sends to you.

Finally, proliferation of the Silk approach to browsing could pose problems for all web surfers in the future. If major browser makers with cloud clout decide to adopt the Silk model, not only will Amazon know your every move on the Web, but so will Google, Apple and Microsoft.


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