After all the effort that Amazon spent advertising the benefits of the Kindle Fire‘s new Silk web browser, I think it is fair to say that it has been a disappointment to a few people so far. Not only has the anticipated speed improvement been minimal so far, but in some cases it can even take longer to browse a page using Silk with its signature web caching ability turned on than getting it normally by toggling off the accelerated page loading. While this is demonstrably the case right this minute, however, that may not mean it is time to give up hope for the future.
There was never much of an indication that Silk would result in less data being downloaded overall, as far as I can tell. The intention was increased efficiency, thanks to removing the need for your Kindle Fire to make connections to multiple different servers for a given page, but nothing huge in terms of simply reducing the amount of transfer. The way it works means that the faster your internet connection is, the less you will benefit from this part of the feature. Establishing multiple connections is less of a problem on a high speed, low latency network. This is a large source of the most common complaints, most likely.
By maintaining an ongoing data stream, Silk will supposedly eventually be able to send along associated and anticipated site data while you wander the internet. As more data is gathered regarding customer browsing habits, particularly in terms of large trends in behavior (visitors tending to move directly from the main page of a web site to its current headlines or daily sales page, for example) the browser should begin to perform significantly better. There are no guarantees, of course, particularly if the majority of your browsing is through little-visited sites, but the potential is there.
The failure to meet customer expectations in this case is understandable. The idea behind the browser is impressive enough to be worth bragging about, but the fact that the eventual results rely on Amazon’s machine learning algorithms means that it would inevitably take time to get the best out of it.
There is every reason to believe that they can turn all this around. The Silk browser really does do some neat things compared to the alternatives. Among other things, Amazon has proven to be pretty effective at predicting peoples’ habits based on what they look at. There wouldn’t have been nearly as much outcry against the advertising on the Kindle Library Lending checkout page if it wasn’t at least somewhat accurate based on minimal data.
Put that together with the fact that they have clearly made a huge investment in the success of the Kindle Fire and the line of products that will surely descend from it and functionality is pretty well assured. The big question now is whether it will be in time to drum up interest again. Without the big initial splash of excitement that real speed improvements would have provided at launch, it might prove hard to make it happen. Perhaps the Kindle Fire‘s larger sequel, when it comes along in a couple months, will take long enough for potential to become reality.