Wednesday Amazon said that its just-announced web browser, Silk, would be an exclusive to the Kindle Fire Android tablet. The company described the "split browser" as cloud-based, as it will reside on both the end-user's device and Amazon's massive Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) server fleet, the latter of which will pre-cache user web browsing. With each page request, Silk will dynamically determine a division of labor between the mobile hardware and Amazon EC2, ultimately providing a faster web browsing experience (we give a thorough explanation on how Silk works here).
But now there's indication that the web browser may find its way onto other devices. According to reports, Amazon has scooped up over 500 new domain names including amazonsilkforandroid.com, amazonsilkformac.com and amazonsilkforpc.com. Naturally the company may simply be shelling out money to keep its Silk brand out of the hands of cybersquatters and the like. The domain purchases were even reportedly made through MarkMonitor, a brand protection agency.
So then case closed? Maybe not. Possible cloud browser rival OnLive was supposedly releasing a cloud-based web browser over the summer, but so far it hasn't appeared. The company is currently working to push the OnLive Player app out the door for tablets, and that's not expected to arrive for another month at the least (soon). That said, the OnLive browser will likely launch sometime after that.
According to the company, the browser will allow Flash, Quicktime, Silverlight and other software to be rendered on the server just like the company's PC game offering. The pre-rendered data will then be streamed directly to users from the company's 10 GB/s servers. Ultimately this means that web content and streaming multimedia, no matter the definition, can be viewed across multiple devices universally including a tablet, smartphone, and even an old AGP-based PC.
"On any device that you’re going to be using the OnLive system, there is a browser," OnLive CEO Steve Perlman stated in an interview. "Whether it’s a tablet, or whether it’s a PC or Mac, you do have a browser. We don’t feel the need to completely replace the browser you have. What we would rather do is give you a browser that accelerates things that are tough to do with a local browser."
Of course, there will have to be some balancing in regards to the cloud-based browser and the actual gaming service.
"The current plan is just to let it out there, to have it one of the features of the (free) service," Perlman said. "It’s complicated because we have to go and be reasonable about usage. If people go nuts on this thing, and for example, it provides flash capabilities to iPad, you can easily see how people can go and just use it; forget the game service and just use it for that. What we’re going to do is kind of monitor it, and see what kind of (demo)graphic and usage we have. If people are being reasonable, that’s fantastic. We’ll let them go wild on it."
It would be interesting to see how Amazon's Silk performs up against OnLive's own browser, but for the moment, neither are available. Then again, Silk may never come to the PC despite Amazon's newly-acquired domain name hinting otherwise.