How Smooth Is Amazon Silk?

At Amazon.com's (Nasdaq: AMZN  ) press event yesterday, the new Kindles took center stage. An underappreciated innovation that the company announced was its new mobile Web browser, Amazon Silk.

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos introduced the new browser alongside the hardware, but most onlookers were probably too excited about the feature presentation to pay much mind to Silk. The company is calling it a "split browser," since it divvies up the computing workload between the local processor and Amazon's Elastic Compute Cloud, or EC2, service. Bezos added, "When you use Silk -- without thinking about it or doing anything explicit -- you're calling on the raw computational horsepower of Amazon EC2 to accelerate your Web browsing."

Silk is "cloud-accelerated" by Amazon Web Services and has the potential to drastically reduce load times. EC2 will assist with file compression, page caching, and local file storage in what Amazon has dubbed "Dynamic Split Browsing." The browser will also intuitively learn aggregate user behaviors and attempt to predict what content is relevant in order to begin preloading pages before you even click them.

The approach itself isn't entirely novel, as Opera has been using a similar approach with its browsers for years. However, Silk's implementation will probably see far better performance improvements since Amazon is such a massive cloud player compared with Opera, a small Norwegian company with 700 employees. Scores of websites already use AWS's Web hosting services, so there's a decent chance any site you visit is already storing data on Amazon servers, making it a snap to serve it up to Silk users.

Silk won't rely entirely on EC2 and can process everything locally when needed, so when Amazon runs into the occasional outage, Silk won't be left high and dry. It's even built upon the same WebKit browser engine that Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL  ) and Google (Nasdaq: GOOG  ) use for Safari and Chrome.

The end result is that pages will load much faster and battery life will be extended since the local CPU can take it easy. On its own, Silk is unlikely to make or break the Kindle Fire for anyone, but it is one of the ways that the tablet has differentiated itself from its Android brethren and puts Apple and Google under the gun to consider revamping their mobile-browser technology.

Fool contributor Evan Niu owns shares of Apple and Amazon.com, but he holds no other position in any company mentioned. Check out his holdings and a short bio. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple and Google. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Google, Amazon.com, and Apple and creating a bull call spread position in Apple. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.


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