Monday, October 10, 2011

Kindle Fire


Since their initial development, e-readers have been a controversial technology.  Some avid readers are more than content with a simple print book with literal pages.  To them, the feeling of turning a page and having a sort of trophy to place on the bookshelf is like no other.  A collection of books can become a prize to some.  Others simply want to read and have as many books as possible, and e-readers make this a reality.  E-readers are becoming more advanced in technology as competition between companies like Apple and Amazon grow.  “When it comes to e-books and e-readers, the selection is increasingly growing, both in terms of content and delivery method” (Peter Zschunke).  Amazon recently announced their newest e-reader to be released in November 2011, the Kindle Fire.  This is surely an e-reader to trump the competition.

The all new Kindle Fire has a full vibrant color 7 inch multi-touch display.  Not only does it provide as an e-reader, but it also has many capabilities that a tablet may have such as wifi, movies, apps, games, music, and Amazon’s new exclusive cloud accelerated web browser called Amazon Silk.  Amazon Silk is truly one of the most interesting aspects to this new e-reader.  It will provide a much faster web browser and allow access to data through its cloud computing system.  All user data is stored in this system, so memory is no longer an issue.  
An additional desirable aspect to the new Kindle Fire is its price.  It will be put on sale for just $199.  “With a $199 price tag and Amazon's strong brand recognition, many are wondering if the Kindle Fire will affect sales of the pricier Apple iPad, which has a price range of $499 to $829” (Mai Hoang).  Apple has a tendency to make their products neat, easy to use, and with a large profit margin.  Amazon is attempting to approach this quite differently, with a smaller profit margin and large number of sales in e-books, music, movies, and more.  They believe this will drive their sales as well as make them a great competitor with Apple.  

Potential Benefits 
Aside from running Google’s Android operating system, which provides users with access to apps, movies, and more, one huge benefit to the new Kindle Fire is the new exclusive cloud accelerated web browser created just for the device.  Amazon Silk uses a new technology called “split browser” architecture to heighten the speed and power of the web browser.  The new Silk Browser software resides in the Kindle Fire Hardware and in the servers that make up the Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2).  “With each page request, Silk dynamically determines a division of labor between the mobile hardware and Amazon EC2 (...) that takes into consideration factors like network conditions, page complexity and the location of any cached content” (Introducing "Amazon Silk").  This results in a lightning fast web browser where round trip-latency is only 5 milliseconds to most websites.  Other wireless connections can take as long as 100 milliseconds (Introducing “Amazon Silk”).
These new EC2 servers have an enormous computational power and the available CPU, storage, and memory is much greater than on mobile devices (Introducing “Amazon Silk”).  Another interesting aspect to Amazon Silk when compared with other browsers is that “traditional browsers must wait to receive the HTML file in order to begin downloading the other page assets. Silk is different because it learns these page characteristics automatically by aggregating the results of millions of page loads and maintaining this knowledge on EC2” (Introducing “Amazon Silk”).  This means that while your average browser is busy setting up a connection with a host server, Silk has already loaded some content that it knows is associated with that particular web page before the site has even told the browser where to look.  
One final benefit of Amazon Silk is its ability to learn about individual sites.  As millions of pages are viewed each day, Silk collects data about where most people go next.  This creates accurate predictions of the next page request which ultimately allows EC2 and Silk to make decisions about pre-pushing content to the Kindle Fire. The next page that the Kindle customer loads will be available locally in the device cache which allows it to be instantly available on screen (Introducing “Amazon Silk”).  

Ethical Issues
One ethical issue with the Kindle Fire is its lack of accessibility to the blind.  “Dr. Marc Maurer, President of the National Federation of the Blind, said: "Blind Americans have repeatedly asked Amazon to include accessibility for the blind in its Kindle product line. The feasibility of including accessibility in similar products has been demonstrated...” (National Federation of the Blind).  Dr. Maurer also goes on to say that this is a form of technological discrimination, and that the National Federation of the Blind would simply like equal access to all technology for blind people.  Accessibility for the blind in Kindle products would include a vocal reader, which has been displayed in other e-readers.

Amazon Fire has access to many apps and games as well as a web browser that helps keep you in touch with others.  It is Facebook and Twitter accessible, so users are always connected.  It also has a built in e-mail application that reroutes email into a single inbox.  It stores contacts and messages from other email accounts to always help keep you in touch.
The Kindle Fire and e-readers alike are causing much social controversy between book-lovers and tech-lovers.  Some people believe that in order to read and appreciate a book, it must be physically there.  To them, the feeling of holding a book and manually turning the pages is all part of the reading experience.  Others believe that books can be enjoyed just as easily through the use of an e-reader, and that these can even enhance your reading experience by allowing you to access hundreds of books at a time and store them without taking up any physical space.  
Another concern with those in favor of printed books is that technology may take over the industry. They think that printed books will become a thing of the past, and many small book stores will go out of business because they will be unable to compete with the technology.  “Books are no longer always bound volumes of printed paper, nor are records packaged discs.  Content has undergone an evolution from the physical to the invisible, from contained to portable” (Butler, C.).  

Security Concerns
As with many other devices that require downloads of music, movies, and books, there will be security concerns regarding illegal download of these materials.  Although there is very little research on this topic in regards to the Kindle Fire, I am curious to see how Amazon plans to handle these concerns. 

The new Kindle Fire is a very advanced tablet e-reader that is capable of storing TV shows, songs, magazines, books, movies, and more.  It has a full 7 inch and vibrant color screen. With its new Amazon Silk browser and cloud computing technology built specifically for the Kindle Fire, surfing the internet will be much faster and all of your data will be stored in the cloud, so memory is not an issue.  Not everyone is happy with the new development, however.  The National Federation of the Blind is still working to get Amazon to agree to make their e-readers friendly to blind users.  Also, some book lovers will always prefer to have a physical book and literal pages to turn.  There is no denying that the technological advances of the Kindle Fire will surely put it ahead of all other e-readers on the market.  

Butler, C.. (2011, August). HOW SHOULD WE CONTAIN THE CLOUD? Print, 65 (4), 46-47.  Retrieved October 6, 2011, from Arts Module. (Document ID: 2411583551). 
Introducing "Amazon Silk": Amazon's Revolutionary Cloud-Accelerated Web Browser, Available Exclusively on Kindle Fire. (28  September). Business Wire.  Retrieved October 5, 2011, from ABI/INFORM Dateline. (Document ID: 2470217321).
Mai Hoang.  (3  October). New Kindle Fire takes on the iPad. McClatchy - Tribune Business News.  Retrieved October 5, 2011, from ABI/INFORM Dateline. (Document ID: 2474245421).
National Federation of the Blind NFB; National Federation of the Blind Condemns Lack of Access to New Kindle Fire. (2011, October). Education Letter,101.  Retrieved October 6, 2011, from Career and Technical Education. (Document ID: 2476025291).
Peter Zschunke.  (25  September). Selection of e-readers and e-books ever growing. McClatchy - Tribune Business News.  Retrieved October 5, 2011, from ABI/INFORM Dateline. (Document ID: 2467508771).