Amazon.com, looking to expand its presence in digital video, debuted a new iPad app this morning that brings its Instant Video service to the Apple tablet.
It’s good news for iPad owners who subscribe to the $79/year Amazon Prime service, who get access at no extra charge to a subset of the Amazon video catalog. About 20,000 movies and television episodes are available to Prime subscribers, out of the broader catalog of 120,000 titles.
However, for people who don’t subscribe to the Amazon Prime, the experience will be more complicated. Amazon doesn’t offer the ability to pay inside the app to purchase or rent movies or television shows. Users will need to do that separately from a web browser on the iPad or a computer, then go back to the iPad app and access the content from a built-in Amazon video library.
Apple takes a 30 percent cut of in-app purchases on iOS — an expense that Amazon has done its best to avoid, removing the in-app purchasing option from its Kindle iOS app, for example.
Amazon’s Instant Video and Prime services are a key part of the company’s Kindle Fire tablet, which is a lower-priced alternative to the iPad.
GigaOm notes that it’s Amazon’s second iPad app in as many months, following the launch of an iOS version of its Amazon Cloud Player in June. He says he suspects that Amazon will bring a native Instant Video app to Android devices next. Instant Video is also available for living room devices including Microsoft’s Xbox 360 and Sony’s PlayStation 3.