Silk essentially splits the architecture of the Web browser in half, relying on both the computing power of the hardware and on the remote servers that comprise Amazon's Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2). It relies on the cloud to call up certain elements of a page, acting sort of like a content delivery network built right into the browser. The company claims that this unique approach will offer a much faster browser experience to end users.
Another way the browser aims to speed things up is by predicting the future. Silk uses machine learning to predict browsing patterns and pre-load pages that the user is likely to request next. Just as Amazon can guess which books and other products you'll be interested in, it can also figure out which pages you're likely to navigate to on the Web.
"The browser observes aggregate user behavior across a large number of sites," said Jon Jenkins, Silk's director of software development. "For instance, we might notice that people who view the New York Times homepage, often go to the New York Times business page afterwards. Our browser is capable of detecting these aggregate user behavior patterns and actually requesting the next page you're likely to need before you even know you need it."
The idea behind Silk is that Amazon's cloud computing infrastructure packs more computing power than mobile devices possibly can, so why not shift more of the burden to the cloud? This is a feature that was already implemented by Opera, but Amazon is uniquely positioned to deliver an optimal experience. Not only does it own the cloud computing resources, but so much of the Web's content is already hosted there.
There is also the issue of market share. Opera is not exactly one of the most-used browsers. Then again, neither will Silk be, considering it's only running on a single platform (for now, anyway). If the Kindle Fire proves to be as successful as analysts have predicted, Silk could become a notable force in the browser market.
If the browser is as fast as they say it is, it could be yet another thing for Amazon's new competitors to take into consideration.