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Christopher Mims

A View from Christopher Mims

Amazon's 'Silk' Browser Probably Coming to a PC Near You

Evidence is mounting that Amazon has larger ambitions for the web browser launching on its new Fire tablet

  • September 29, 2011

The powered-by-the-cloud Silk browser Amazon surprised users with yesterday, which will initially only be available on its Fire 7-inch tablet, will probably be coming to other platforms, though the evidence is still circumstantial. The Silk browser is notable because it offloads much of the processing of web pages to Amazon’s vast cloud infrastructure, to speed up the browsing experience. (The Opera browser has been doing this for years, but unfortunately for Opera, no one seems have noticed.)

Here’s the evidence so far:

1. Amazon has gone on a URL buying spree, snapping up domains like amazonsilkforandroid.com and amazonsilkformac.com. These domains were acquired through MarkMonitor, a “brand protection agency,” so it’s not clear that Amazon will ever actually use them.

2. Perhaps more compelling is this line from the Amazon Fire’s privacy policy, spotted by Tim Maly, proprietor of the blog Quiet Babylon:

If you use Amazon Silk on a Kindle device, your device will automatically send Amazon Silk crash reports to Amazon. You may choose to send these reports when using Amazon Silk on other devices. Crash reports help us diagnose problems with the browser and improve its performance.

Again, it’s worth noting that these moves could be speculative on Amazon’s part. But if, as Amazon claims, their webkit-based client allows significantly faster browsing than conventional browsers, it could mean an important new entrant is coming to the browser wars.

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