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What's The Deal With All the Kindles?


I just read your e-mail lol

So Amazon introduced 3 new Kindles that as of writing are being offered alongside now-discounted existing models. This means they now have 7 versions (counting the DX) of the Kindle currently on the market – three with keyboards, three with touchscreens, and one with a little toggle switch, a few buttons and little else.

If one is to believe the gadget media, these things are basically the second coming. There’s a really cheap e-reader now! Except if you want it without ads it’ll be an extra $30, jacking up the price by 40%. But forget that – There’s an iPad competitor that does Flash! Except in order to function properly, it needs to pass all data through Amazon’s cloud servers. These servers will gently massage your websites for you in preparation for delivery into your Fire’s waiting maw, not unlike a mother penguin regurgitating fish for it’s young.

The above mental image aside, doesn’t this strike anyone else as weird? Amazon is taking data from a website, making cliff notes, then passing you these cliff notes. Not only that, but it’s keeping a copy of these notes for the purposes of predicting what website you’ll be going to next. People flipped out over Facebook’s privacy but not this?

From their website:

“As Silk serves up millions of page views every day, it learns more about the individual sites it renders and where users go next. By observing the aggregate traffic patterns on various web sites, it refines its heuristics, allowing for accurate predictions of the next page request. For example, Silk might observe that 85 percent of visitors to a leading news site next click on that site’s top headline. With that knowledge, EC2 and Silk together make intelligent decisions about pre-pushing content to the Kindle Fire. As a result, the next page a Kindle Fire customer is likely to visit will already be available locally in the device cache, enabling instant rendering to the screen.”

Some people thing this sounds awesome. Me? I feel a bit skeeved out. I don’t want someone else reading my websites for me then deciding how best to show the content. Furthermore I don’t want Amazon cribbing a list of every website I’ve ever been to and how I’ve interacted with it.

That’s just me, of course. If I’ve learned anything from Facebook’s approach to privacy, I’ve learned that outrage boils down to ennui a lot quicker than one would expect when it comes to sharing personal data online. If the Kindle Fire really does work faster than the iPad and the interface/lack of apps doesn’t turn people away, I do expect it do quite well. For me though while the price is right, the tradeoffs aren’t worth it.

Edit: it’s taking an amazing amount of time (really half a day but in internet time that’s years) to realize that the real threat Amazon is posting here is not to Apple but to Google.
Edit2: The inevitable flowchart.

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