Can Amazon’s Silk Slip Past Google’s Ads?

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Amazon’s Silk browser uses a proxy to speed up browsing. Clint Boulton thinks it might allow Amazon to steal a march on Google

When Amazon unveiled the Kindle Fire tablet last week, many media members and analysts noted that the device featured zero Google branding.

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos regaled the New York City audience with details about the tablet without once mentioning that it was based on Android.

That posed no surprise. Amazon had been long expected to launch its own custom Android slate, sans the Google brand. It launched its own Android Appstore without Google’s blessing.

Silk: a smooth operator

What nobody expected was the inclusion of the Amazon Silk browser as the method of accessing the Web on the tablet.

What’s special about Silk is that it’s a split browser, relying on not just the app to deliver users to the Web, but on Amazon’s cloud to shuttle the Web to the user. [Editor’s note: this is something which the Opera browser has done for years]

Silk also collects user data such as Web URLs and IP or MAC addresses to better fetch users’ Web pages and return users quickly to places they’ve already surfed.

Amazon noted: “As you begin to use the browser, this view will become customized to display your most frequently visited sites, allowing for fast navigation to the sites you visit most often.”

The result is that, within the context of using the Kindle Fire, users needn’t go to Google as much if they choose not to. They may stay in Amazon’s service silo. Jean Louis-Gasse noted in his Monday Note blog:

For example, what happens to Google ads and services? Today, on my PC, Google knows it’s me using its services. Tomorrow, from a Fire, I assume they’ll get an Amazon Web Services request without further user info. That’s the ”threatening to Google” part mentioned above; Google could find itself providing free services without getting much of anything in return.

I’m not saying Amazon will roll out its own version of AdWords, or AmazonWords, if you will.

But as Gasse said, Silk could give Amazon a treasure trove of personal data from Kindle Fire users that it may use to target those consumers for products, such as typical Amazon brick-and-mortar fare and content recommendations, such as music, movies and applications.

Amazon has said that the info it scrapes is purely for improving Silk and eliminating technical troubles. Personally, I don’t believe it. In time, it will be a weapon Amazon can use to disintermediate Google from the consumer value chain.

So don’t be surprised if we see other Amazon services within the silo, as noted in this cute tweet:

This would help Amazon better compete versus Google and Apple by selling more stuff to consumers, which is how the e-commerce giant butters its bread.

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