Amazon Spins a Yarn with Silk on Kindle Fire

One of the selling points for Amazon’s Kindle Fire is supposed to be its Silk browser with embedded web acceleration capabilities. However, new data suggests Amazon’s claims of a better browsing experience are overstated. Google employee Steve Souders tested the performance of Silk on the Fire and compared it to web browsing on other tablets. Souders can’t be considered an unbiased observer given Google’s own interest in web acceleration technologies, but his findings are still interesting. According to Souders (and reported by ReadWriteWeb), Safari on the iPad 2 loaded pages faster in most cases than Silk on the Kindle tablet did. The Galaxy Tab performed better than the Fire with three out of eleven pages tested.

Part of the issue with Silk is that it requires content to be routed through Amazon’s servers in order for the company to perform its acceleration magic. That’s great for content already hosted on Amazon’s cloud, but (as I understand it) it means an extra step for content originally hosted elsewhere. In addition, as one commenter points out on Souder’s post, websites that already use serious content delivery network services have maxed out acceleration potential at the network level and won’t see improvement on Amazon’s network. Despite public perception, the Amazon cloud can’t compete from a distribution perspective with the networks operated by the major global CDN players.

Souders does make clear that he expects Silk to continue to improve. He says Amazon hasn’t optimized everything yet on its acceleration platform, and certain obvious optimizations, like concatenating scripts, are likely to roll out in the near future. In the meantime, Kindle browsing appears to work better with Silk acceleration turned off than with Silk acceleration turned on. Keep that in mind if you plan to wrap up a Kindle Fire for someone this holiday season.

5 thoughts on “Amazon Spins a Yarn with Silk on Kindle Fire”

  1. One advantage of silk is that the amazon tunnel is encrypted, so nobody can sniff what you’re doing. It’s like having a free VPN (that only works with the browser). That’s the only reason to turn it on right now.

    Apart from that, you’re best off sideloading dolphin browser HD.

  2. My bf got me a Kindle Fire for my birthday and I love it. It’s lightweight and easy to use straight out of the box. The first thing I recommend anyone with a new Kindle do is install the nook app. We got our instructions from through google. It basically unlocks all the Android marketplace apps and unlocks the device. Super happy!

  3. It’s pretty disingenuous to compare the performance of the Fire to the iPad or Galaxy Tab. Completely different levels of hardware an pricepoints. If the Fire is even tolerable after surfing on an iPad, i give Amazon a lot of credit. Why not run a benchmark of the Fire against the first Samsung Tab tablet?
    I have no interest in the Fire as my tablet target is the faster processor and hardware, but you get what you pay for. To compare a $200 tablet to a $500 tablet is just putting your thumb on the scale.

  4. Yes, Amazon’s comparison is also disingenuous. They just omit most any of the differentiating features of the iPad. I can create a comparison between a 70’s Yugo and a modern Ferreri where the Yugo comes out ahead if I just ignore the differences that would be made in any standard evaluation.

    I appreciate that the guy from Google at least used some methodology for his comparison, which was clearly not done on the Amazon fantasy page you linked to, but neither makes the other any less disingenuous of a comparison.

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