Amazon’s Fire is a Game Changer

September 30, 2011 — Leave a comment

Amazon’s FIRE is a Game Changer: Replacing The Internet with an Aggregator

An Aggregator Shopping With You In Mind, Katherine Ross, Stepford Wives, 1975

Lost in this week’s “Is it an iPad Killer?”  hype of Amazon’s  new FIRE tablet is the bold introduction of the SILK browser. Under the guise of increasing speed (on WiFi; there is no 3G Fire where download speed would be a larger issue), Amazon is performing amazing jujitsu on Google. The “split browser” notion  means  Amazon will capture and control every web transaction performed by Fire users. Every page you see, every link you follow, every click you make, every ad you see is going to be aggregated by one of the largest server farms on the planet. People who now recoil at the data-mining implications of the Facebook Timeline ought to be floored by the magnitude of Amazon’s opportunity here. Artificial Intelligence has been lurking around for years,  it has now arrived by press conference.

On September 27th, the new 50th Anniversary DVD of Ben Hur reached the consumer. I happen to be an enthusiast of the movie, one of the first great  pics I ever saw on the big screen, an inspiration for getting involved in movie making. I am also an Amazon fan and constant buyer of product in hard copy and digital (I have my iPad too, download through Kindle, etc.)  Customer service is seminal to Amazon and they do a great job in a marketplace that largely ignores good service.  But check this out:  I received a prompt from Amazon (‘cause it knows I am a Ben Hur buyer and had stuff send to my home as well as through Kindle)  to purchase the new version for $44.99, rather than the retail price of $64.99) . A pretty good deal. But soon after, I got a note from Facebook, because I have Ben Hur as a movie I liked along with a bunch of others offering me a Facebook deal for $34.99. In the midst of a new product release within a matter of a few days, I have Apple, Amazon, and Facebook politely in my face,

“FIRE isn’t a noun, it’s a verb, and it’s what Amazon has done in the targeted direction of Google,” Chris Espinoza, a senior engineer at Apple, said,  “This is the first shot in the new war for replacing the Internet with a privatized merchant data-aggregation network.”

That is a whopping   statement, replacing the internet with an aggregator.


Hiroshi Ishii, Tangible Media, Things That Think

Hiroshi Ishii is a smart and funny guy.  He is co-Director of Things That Think Consortium at MIT, and Head of Tangible Media Group at the MIT Media Lab. Hiroshi and the fellows are moving computing power off the handset and laptop and into everything. They are putting it in tables, paper, cloth; it’s now on the wallpaper. Imagine every surface that you touch: it’s going to have computing power.

Touch- Sensitive is a wearable device that leverages stress and provides comfort for people on the move. It is one of the projects on which the Tangible Media Group is working.  Touch-Sensitive is wearable clothing  designed for people to heal themselves of stress by carrying a bag.


According to last year’s Stanford University study, iPhone users are becoming so reliant on their iPhones that they are actually reporting being addicted to their Apple smartphones. Almost half of the respondents in the 200 person study acknowledged an iPhone addiction.  Students were asked to rate their addiction to their iPhones on a scale of one to five, from ‘not at all addicted’ to ‘fully addicted.’ Forty-four percent answered with a four or above.  Seventy-five percent actually confessed to sleeping with their iPhone in bed next to them.  It isn’t just phone and clock features making the iPhone so indispensable. As Live Science notes, ’15 percent of those surveyed said the iPhone was turning them into a media addict; 30 percent called it a doorway into the world; 25 percent found the phone ‘dangerously alluring’ and 41 percent said losing their iPhone would be ‘a tragedy.’

Interestingly, the iPhone is seen less as an outside device and more of an extension of the person due to the amount of personal information held on it and the ways in which students use it to organize and facilitate their social lives. Researchers were surprised by how readily students seem to anthropomorphize the device, including almost 20% of the students admitting to “Petting it”.


Every kid seems to have or had  a “blankie”; and there always seems to be some remnant of it under a pillow and in a drawer even after they climb on to their first school bus. Imagine a blankie very soon that will be intelligent; that will know when a child is hungry, moves closer when the child is cold, knows when to breath to cool the child down, and knows when it is time to watch a new cartoon from the Amazon Cloud or change a diaper ordered through Facebook. This is where the aggregation will lead. The new suppliers will largely come through the browser interface.

Sir Arthur C. Clarke, Author, 2001

Sir Arthur C Clarke, futurist and novelist said, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”  According to Moore’s law, computing power is increasing at a rate of 100% every eighteen months.  It is a provocative concept to know that in just a few years computing power will be in everything. Probably even our undies. So what does that mean to our individual  quest in life?

I loved reading his science Fiction as a kid. But so much of his writing that has become popularized in movies, BLADE RUNNER, TOTAL RECALL, MINORITY REPORT seems to be a reality that is just around the corner. A book that has not yet been made but which Coppola once optioned and Scorsese once tried to crack is THIRD STIGMATA OF PALMER ELDRITCH  . In it,  the protagonist  has a droid. The droid is quite funny and small like a vacuum cleaner but it follows the hero everywhere and acts as his shrink, confessor, and his aggregator for all needs. It seems that  droid is also around the  corner, but that is for another blog,

The information age  and the computing age is fantastic. But we need to learn to control it rather than allow it to become our new addiction.

South Korea changed its dire economy 12 years ago by committing to new commerce born of the information age. The country is thriving. Emblematic  of this was the incredible boon of internet cafes on every mainline street. Now, the new big cottage industry there? Addiction retreats where kids are taken out to the country, learn to throw a ball and how to jump rope.

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