Amazon launched its Kindle Cloud Reader, which is designed to use HTML5 to do an end run around Apple App restrictions and the move could be emulated by a wide range of publishers.
The Kindle Cloud Reader, available on Google Chrome and Apple Safari with more browser support on deck, brings in-app purchases to the iPhone and iPad. The big question with this experiment is whether folks will use the HTML5 version over a semi-crippled Kindle app.
Last month, Amazon, Barnes & Noble and others pulled in-app purchase buttons. Why? Apple wanted a cut of the in-app purchases. The Apple fee kills margins too much so the HTML5 migration is well under way. Vudu also moved to an HTML5 app.
And Amazon just kicked off the festivities. Like all Kindle apps, the Cloud Reader synchronizes everything in your library. It looks sweet on the iPad and works nicely on the PC. I used the Cloud Reader to get reacquainted with the Black Swan for rather obvious market reasons.
It's no coincidence that Amazon picked Chrome and Safari to work with first. Both Google and Apple largely control app ecosystems. The Cloud Reader is insurance against Google also doing away with in-app purchases somehow. That move is unlikely, but HTML5 will increasingly make sense in all cases.
On the PC, I found the Kindle Cloud Reader as something I'd use in a pinch. On a tablet, the Kindle Cloud Reader is a keeper. Adrian Kingsley Hughes highlighted an initial tour. You'll note that the interface simply works better on the iPad.
The challenge Amazon---and anyone going the HTML5 route---will be user behavior. Will users go with a browser based version over an app? As wireless service speeds increase via 4G it's likely that the browser wins the day. That transition may take years to play out, but HTML5 will wind up winning the day.
- Amazon's unveils web-based Kindle cloud reader
- Gallery: Amazon Kindle Cloud Reader now available for web-based ebook reading
- Amazon, others cave to Apple on in-app purchases today, HTML5 tomorrow
- CNET: Kindle Cloud Reader Web app rebuffs Apple