Kindle Cloud Reader: Amazon's answer to Apple's app restrictions

Amazon has swept back into the in-app purchase game, and they're doing it right on the same iOS devices from which they were banned not so long ago.

When I worked at Apple back in the 80s and 90s, James Burke's Connections series was all the rage. He would show how one innovation (say stirrups used by 11th century Normans) could lead to a completely unexpectedly connected innovation in modern times (the telecommunications industry, for example). It was a fascinating show and well-worth tracking down.

There's a modern version called Engineering Connections hosted by Top Gear's Richard Hammond. Hammond doesn't have Burke's panache, but Hammond is from Top Gear, so it's all good. Also worth tracking down.

The reason I'm bringing up Connections is I'm often fascinated by how one chess move on the part of a competitor may lead to an entirely unexpected chess move by another competitor.

Here, of course, I'm talking about the Kindle and Apple. As almost everyone now knows, Apple doesn't support Flash on iOS devices. Prior to Apple's big anti-Flash splash, HTML5 was a technology that only a relatively few outliers were paying much attention to (at least, as compared to the level of entrenchment that Flash enjoyed).

But since HTML5 was an approved-of technology for iOS devices and was the substitute solution for many Flash-based sites, interest in, expertise in, and support for HTML5 grew exponentially. The connection here was Apple's dissing of Flash led directly to the growth of HTML5.

Another Apple strategic action was the banning of in-app ordering, unless they got their 30% cut. For many smaller vendors, this was a wonderful opportunity, but for vendors like Amazon and their Kindle store, the 30% cut was a completely impractical demand on the part of a competitor.

Initially, this accomplished Apple's apparent goal, of pushing purchases of books from any but Apple's own iBooks application off iOS devices. But, of course, iOS devices are a huge market and worthy of Amazon's attention.

See also: Amazon, others cave to Apple on in-app purchases today, HTML5 tomorrow

So, now, Amazon has swept back into the in-app purchase game, and they're doing it right on the same iOS devices from which they were banned not so long ago.

Enter Kindle Cloud Reader, a beautiful, HTML5-based application that provides all the reading support you might want on your iPad (and, probably soon, on your iPhone). Because you can run Kindle Cloud Reader in Safari, in-app purchases are fully supported and Apple can't do anything about it.

So, what makes Kindle Cloud Reader possible? What makes Kindle Cloud Reader as nice an app as any from the App Store? The answer is simple: HTML5.

And there's your connection: Apple blocks Flash in favor of HTML5 and as a result, their attempt to block Kindle in-app purchases in favor of iBooks in-app purchases is overcome because of HTML5.

It's almost poetic.

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