Welcome to the home of Noah Brier. I'm the co-founder of Variance and general internet tinkerer. Most of my writing these days is happening over at Why is this interesting?, a daily email full of interesting stuff. This site has been around since 2004. Feel free to get in touch. Good places to get started are my Framework of the Day posts or my favorite books and podcasts. Get in touch.

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Silk, Services and Amazon’s Interesting Ways

Lots of people have been writing about how Amazon buried the lead of it’s Kindle Fire announcement by quietly mentioning Slik, the crazy browser it includes that pre-caches sites for you.

In the post that first got me thinking about this, Chris Espinosa wrote:

But what this means is that Amazon will capture and control every Web transaction performed by Fire users. Every page they see, every link they follow, every click they make, every ad they see is going to be intermediated by one of the largest server farms on the planet. People who cringe at the data-mining implications of the Facebook Timeline ought to be just floored by the magnitude of Amazon’s opportunity here. Amazon now has what every storefront lusts for: the knowledge of what other stores your customers are shopping in and what prices they’re being offered there. What’s more, Amazon is getting this not by expensive, proactive scraping the Web, like Google has to do; they’re getting it passively by offering a simple caching service, and letting Fire users do the hard work of crawling the Web. In essence the Fire user base is Amazon’s Mechanical Turk, scraping the Web for free and providing Amazon with the most valuable cache of user behavior in existence.

Which immediately led me to what seemed like an obvious question: When can we expect an AWS service to accompany this and what will it mean? I have to imagine that there are many companies using AWS infrastructure that spend a lot of time, computing and bandwidth contacting sites and pulling down the content (we do it for Percolate). What’s more, every AWS service is basically a piece of Amazon infrastructure that they’ve perfected (take their announcement earlier this year of Simple Notification Service, a mass emailer with the lowest prices in existence). So what happens if they start to offer this up? Instead of having to go hit sites you can just request the data from AWS. Again, it would push something that can be a major headache for technology companies and turn it into something as easy as turning a faucet on and off (for a price, of course).

Amazon is a really interesting company right now. What they’ve been able to do on both the consumer side and B2B side is pretty amazing (Netflix is a big customer and the biggest competitor to their video streaming service). I just can’t think of another company out there doing things like they are.

October 1, 2011