Most of the world will be fixated on the new hardware released by Amazon today. Sure a $79 Kindle is almost too cheap to ignore and the $200 Fire is an interesting media consumption device but the real news is Amazon making a move on the web.
In a nutshell Amazon is going to release a two part web browser for the Fire tablet. Rather than use the web browser on the device to handle all of the code from a website, Amazon will use their EC2 cloud system to offload the more intensive tasks and deliver content to the device more quickly. They are going to do some magic in the cloud too. They will cache the content which will make it much faster to deliver commonly requested content. Amazon will also use machine learning to prepare the next predicted page(s) for the device before the user even asks for it.
On the surface this sounds really amazing. The device would no longer have to “crunch” a very heavy page since the Amazon EC2 cloud will take care of it and then optimize it for the device. It is important to note that Fire is the initial device but Amazon is going to find a way to get this delivery model on as many devices as it in short order.
You may be thinking to yourself, “What’s the big deal? Faster web, less for me to think about, awesome!” Consider the fact that ALL content is going to be routed through the EC2 cloud. That means every website accessed through the device will be visible to Amazon. They say they won’t track individual user behavior but the usage patterns they will get from this approach are huge. The potential is there to learn some very detailed information about user behavior that will give Amazon a huge advantage over Google, Microsoft, Apple, etc.
In a way Amazon has put their cards on the table. How will Google respond to Amazon using their Android platform while they are full throttle on Google +? Will Apple respond with a similar model for Mobile Safari? You do know about that data center
Apple has built in North Carolina don’t you? Will Microsoft have a response despite the focus on Windows Phone 7, Windows 8 and any number of other distractions? How will content publishers respond if preferential treatment is given to EC2 customers?
Amazon has the infrastructure to monetize the data. If there is one thing they do right is compile data in a meaningful way for their customers. This has huge potential for them but it all hinges on massive adoption of Fire and ultimately other devices and platforms. The currency on the web is converting to Data. So when Mark Zuckerberg says, “All your stories, all your life.” it is clear personal data is what they are after. Facebook is another post for another day. I don’t blame Amazon for their decision but the ramifications of walled off data connections could cause more problems than it solves for consumers.
“This is the first shot in the new war for replacing the Internet with a privatized merchant data-aggregation network.” – Chris Espinosa