Apple wants its piece of the pie, and it implemented some heavy-handed policies for in-app purchases. Rather than giving a cut of the revenue to Apple, companies like Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and others chose to simply remove the button for in-app purchases. Now, Amazon has stepped it up a notch by creating a Web-based version of the Kindle reader that circumvents Apple entirely.
The Kindle Cloud Reader is available now for Chrome, and Safari--both the desktop version, and the iPad version. Just as with the Kindle itself, and the comprehensive collection of Kindle apps, the Kindle Cloud Reader automatically synchronizes your Kindle library, as well as your last page read, bookmarks, notes, and highlights for all of your Kindle books, no matter how you choose to read them.
"We are excited to take this leap forward in our 'Buy Once, Read Everywhere' mission and help customers access their library instantly from anywhere," said Dorothy Nicholls, Director, Amazon Kindle. "We have written the application from the ground up in HTML5, so that customers can also access their content offline directly from their browser. The flexibility of HTML5 allows us to build one application that automatically adapts to the platform you're using--from Chrome to iOS. To make it easy and seamless to discover new books, we've added an integrated, touch optimized store directly into Cloud Reader, allowing customers one click access to a vast selection of books."
"Project Spartan", a rumored Facebook project designed to offer an entire app ecosystem via HTML5, would be a similar shot across Apple's bow. In essence, developers are finding a way around the draconian policies of Apple. Apple may have tight control over the Apple App Store, but it doesn't control the Web, and it would be foolish to try and ban or block specific websites (like the Amazon Kindle Cloud Reader, or the Facebook "Project Spartan" platform) just to force all revenue from iOS devices through the Apple pipeline.
It isn't all about Apple, though. Regardless of Apple App Store policies, developers may be looking at the capabilities of HTML5-based apps as a cross-platform solution. Rather than developing (and supporting) an app for iPhone, and iPad, and Android, and BlackBerry, and Windows Phone 7, and WebOS, and Windows, and Mac OS X, a developer can create one HTML5 app that will work from the Web regardless of platform.
Kindle Cloud Reader will be available on additional web browsers, including Internet Explorer, Firefox, the BlackBerry PlayBook browser, and other mobile browsers, in the coming months.