Kindle Fire Tablet: Cool Gadget or Power Grab for Amazon? (VIDEO)

By Goodale, Gloria | The Christian Science Monitor, September 29, 2011 | Go to article overview

Kindle Fire Tablet: Cool Gadget or Power Grab for Amazon? (VIDEO)


Goodale, Gloria, The Christian Science Monitor


The Kindle Fire is integrated with the Amazon cloud computing service, and the user is automatically logged into Amazon, turning the device into a powerful proprietary shopping tool.

Amazon's new Kindle Fire tablet device lit up the tech world when it debuted on Wednesday. But like many an impulse shopper on the day after, that same tech universe is alive with second thoughts. Although it does not go on sale until Nov. 15, the Fire is already generating questions about security, privacy, and where the Amazon- centric device is taking the tablet trend.

Unlike any previous tablet, the Fire is seamlessly integrated with the powerful Amazon cloud computing service as a primary - and free - storage for users. And when the gadget turns on, the user is already logged into Amazon, turning this latest Kindle iteration into a powerful proprietary shopping tool above all other functions, say media watchers.

Shopping has never been simpler, says R. David Lankes of the School of Information Studies at Syracuse University in New York. He adds via e-mail, "no login to enter, no setup screens, just turn it on and consume."

There is clearly a push to control everything that is happening on tablet devices, says Raj Dandage, chief technology officer of Appguppy Mobile in Brookline, Mass. With the introduction of its cloud storage, he says, Amazon is pushing its level of control even further. "The move toward such tight control over devices is extremely troubling," he says. Not only does it raise privacy and security concerns to deposit all user activity in a vast digital repository, he says, but it also pushes consumption over innovation.

"There is a general fear in the industry that we are shifting from an open Internet toward a TV-like environment, where a few content providers can drown out everything else," he says.

Amazon's new browser, dubbed Silk, redefines the privacy frontier, notes Tim Keanini, chief technology officer for nCircle, a network security firm based in San Francisco. "Silk is designed to retain an almost limitless amount of user data by storing it in the cloud," he says via e-mail. …

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