Amazon Kindle Cloud Reader app bypasses Apple’s rules

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Amazon’s new Kindle Cloud Reader is exactly the sort of iPad app Apple isn’t allowing in its App Store.

Built in HTML5, running on the Web and not just iOS, the Kindle Cloud Reader Web app enables Kindle users to not only read e-books they buy from Amazon but buy books from within the app itself.

Unlike Amazon’s native iOS Kindle app, Kindle Cloud Reader skips the App Store and iTunes. No downloads required. All that needs to be done to get the Cloud Reader on an iPad is to open Safari and type the right URL,

But while users may see a big advantage in being able to read a book from the cloud (i.e. the Internet) and buy a new book all in the same app -- as Kindle Cloud Reader offers -- the real winner here could end up being Amazon.


That’s because anything sold through Apple’s App Store or iTunes gives Apple a 30% cut of revenue. Amazon, the world’s largest online retailer, isn’t too keen on forking over a portion of its sales, and Kindle Cloud Reader gives Amazon a book-selling iPad app that it can have full control over.

Apple doesn’t allow the buying of digital content (books, video, music, etc.) from within an app unless that content is sold through iTunes and the App Store -- unless that content is delivered in a subscription, as magazines or newspapers are. Apple’s iOS app rules don’t allow an app to link to an outside website where users can buy anything, which is why Amazon removed a link to its Kindle store from its iOS Kindle app and Barnes & Noble did the same with its Nook app.

The HTML5 app, which also works with Apple’s Safari and Google’s Chrome browsers on Macs and PCs (no Firefox, Opera or IE support yet), gives Amazon and its customers a way to get around the App Store restrictions.

Amazon isn’t the only company looking to HTML5 for an App Store workaround -- Wal-Mart’s Vudu is doing the same with its video storefront and Rdio last week skipped the ‘Apple tax,’ as some call it.

As HTML5 becomes more popular for building websites and Web apps, we can probably expect to see more Web apps to pop up that also set their own rules.


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-- Nathan Olivarez-Giles