With an unprecedented demand for ‘lite’ apps in emerging markets, the E-commerce giant Amazon has very quietly released its own Android web browser. It has one of the most generic names one could think of – “Internet: Fast, lite and private”. What’s more interesting is that the Amazon web browser app for Android didn’t come under the radar and has been sitting unspotted in the Google Play Store since March. The lack of fanfare is evident as it has fewer than 1,000 downloads.
Amazon hasn’t made its launch public, but as of now it is only available to users in India for the time being and runs on devices with Android 5.0 or higher, reports TechCrunch.
The app offers a web-browser with trending news and general headlines on the homepage, a bunch of shortcuts and supports private tabs for going incognito. Pretty much basic! Tab Previews and an automatic full-screen mode are a few additional features.
Like most ‘lite’ apps and unlike any web-browsers, the Amazon’s web browser is an abysmally small download – weighing in under 2 MB. That’s surprisingly ‘lite’ (light) when compared to other browsers, including Edge (54.5Mb), Google Chrome (21Mb), Mozilla Firefox (19.9Mb) and Opera (14.7Mb).
The Google Play description of the new browser notes that it’s ‘private’, which is maybe because it doesn’t ask for extra permissions from the user or collects private data like other browsers do.
Amazon Web Browser: A Tool To Boost Growth In India
Amazon does have an existing Silk browser running on its Android-based Fire Tablets and Phones. Silk is based on the open-source Chromium project that uses Blink engine, Google Chrome uses it as well. The ‘Internet’ is different from Silk altogether. While the latter is not available in India, the availability of the former one is just one odd difference.
If you look into the Google Play Store, you will find a plethora of web-browsers and if you don’t like options you could be better off with Google’s Chrome Browser. Also, the Internet is reminiscent of Twitter lite, Facebook lite, Youtube Go or Gmail Go, all slimmer versions of original apps. Recently, Google started suggesting that if one should consider opting for a lite version of apps. We are still unclear about the Internet app that what sets it apart – obviously apart from being “fast, lite and private” !
The real big question about ‘Internet’ is, why Amazon chose to build it and why is it only available for Indian users?
Having reached near saturation in bigger economies like Europe and the US, tech giants are aiming for the developing nations, or say emerging markets, for more new customers. Android runs on over 2 billion devices now. Interestingly, more than 85% of all smartphones sold worldwide in 2017 had Android as its OS. Google is pushing Android Go for cheaper entry-level devices. For India, Android is a dominant mobile operating system in India with 82.18% of market share as of December 2017. By that metric, Amazon is following the common logic in a bid to target people who have low-specced devices or are deprived of a storming fast internet.
It can possibly be a part of a larger strategy of Amazon. The AI assistant Alexa is customized to work well with the local audience. Also, its Prime Subscription service is going strong in India by collaborating with local players.
Amazon has a lot of products and most of which rhymes with making you buy more stuff. One can buy stuff by voicing it through a smart speaker (Echo), one can buy Amazon’s own ebooks through Kindle. Prime Original shows push people into subscribing to it.
“When we win a Golden Globe, it helps us sell more shoes.” Jeff Bezos said once.
A small web-browser seems a method less effective than previous ones to achieve such grand ambitions.