From a business perspective, the new “Kindle Cloud Reader” web app released by Amazon.com this morning will let the online retailer link iPad users to its digital bookstore without sharing 30 percent of the revenue with Apple. It follows a standoff between Apple and online content providers over Apple’s new rules for revenue sharing inside native apps on its iOS devices.
But it’s also pretty interesting from a technology perspective: Kindle Cloud Reader takes advantage of the expanding capabilities of web browsers — using HTML5, the latest generation of the underlying language of the web — to make the experience more like an app downloaded and installed from a mobile marketplace.
A button inside the app links to the Kindle Store — a feature that Amazon and other companies have removed recently from their native iOS apps to comply with new conditions imposed by Apple on the sale of subscriptions and other digital items from inside those apps.
Kindle Cloud Reader is available at www.amazon.com/cloudreader. It works initially with Safari on iPad, Mac and PC; and on Google’s Chrome browser. Future versions will be available for Internet Explorer, Firefox, BlackBerry Playbook and other browsers.
The app is a sign of the rising competition between Amazon and Apple. The iPad maker offers its own iBook store, in competition with Kindle. Amazon is widely believed to be working on its own Android-based tablet device to compete with the iPad.
Among other features, Kindle Cloud Reader lets people download books for reading in the browser even when they’re offline. Users can customize the page layout and view notes and highlights that they’ve made on a Kindle device or in other Kindle apps. Other features include digital bookmarking synced across devices, so users can start reading wherever they previously stopped.