The Agenda

Chris Espinosa on Amazon vs. Google

Chris Espinosa argues that Amazon has pulled off an “astonishing jujitsu” move on Google:

 

Under the guise of increasing speed (on WiFi; there is no 3G Fire where download speed would be a larger issue), Amazon is performing astonishing jujitsu on Google.

The “split browser” notion is that Amazon will use its EC2 back end to pre-cache user web browsing, using its fat back-end pipes to grab all the web content at once so the lightweight Fire-based browser has to only download one simple stream from Amazon’s servers. But what this means is that Amazon will capture and control every Web transaction performed by Fire users. Every page they see, every link they follow, every click they make, every ad they see is going to be intermediated by one of the largest server farms on the planet. People who cringe at the privacy and data-mining implications of the Facebook Timeline ought to be just floored by the magnitude of Amazon’s opportunity here. Amazon now has what every storefront lusts for: the knowledge of what other stores your customers are shopping in and what prices they’re being offered there. What’s more, Amazon is getting this not by expensive, proactive scraping the Web, like Google has to do; they’re getting it passively by offering a simple caching service, and letting Fire users do the hard work of crawling the Web. In essence the Fire user base is Amazon’s Mechanical Turk, scraping the Web for free and providing Amazon with the most valuable cache of user behavior in existence.

And all of this on Google’s dime. They use a back-revved version of Android, not Honeycomb; they don’t use Google’s web browser; they can intermediate user click through on Google search results so Google doesn’t see the actual user behavior. Google’s whole play of promoting Android in order to aggregate user behavior patterns to sell to advertisers is completely subverted by Amazon’s intermediation. [Emphasis added]

Bezos is the kind of diabolical genius you want on your side. Of course, all of this assumes that Fire spreads like wildfire, which is hardly a predetermined conclusion.