Amazon's Kindle Cloud Reader could offer a model for Web-based apps, but it won't exactly kill Apple's App Store.
Could Amazon's Kindle Cloud Reader end up harming Apple's App Store?
That seems to be a favored topic of discussion across the Web today. The Kindle Cloud Reader lets users read Kindle e-books via their Web browser without the need to download and install an application. Amazon launched the HTML5-based platform Aug. 10 for Safari on iPad and desktop, as well as Chrome-in other words, targeting much of the same user base as Apple's App Store.
Apple has imposed ever-tighter restrictions on said App Store, requiring that developers strip in-application purchasing mechanisms from their offerings if they want to display content purchased outside the application. In-app purchasing will apparently still net Apple some 30 percent of the fee.
In response, Amazon updated its Kindle for iPhone application without the Kindle Store Button, requiring anyone wanting to purchase a Kindle e-book on their iPhone to route over to Amazon's Website-and now, it seems, the Kindle Cloud Reader has arrived to sop up a portion (a substantial portion, the retailer doubtlessly hopes) of the iPad user base.
The question is whether other big brands will follow Amazon's lead. One Kindle rival, Kobo, has already built an HTML5 Web application as an alternative to the App Store. "Over the past weeks, Kobo has worked with Apple to create a solution that would benefit the iOS eReading community within Apple's new App Store guidelines," Kobo claimed in a July 26 press release. "Unfortunately, Apple has mandated that Kobo, along with all eBook retailers, substantially change the eReading experience for consumers by removing in-app access to the Kobo store."
The Financial Times also has an HTML5-based application. If it succeeds, the door opens for other subscription publications to embrace the Web over the restrictions of Apple's storefront.
Apple's App Store remains the biggest application repository on the planet, and it seems unlikely that even a handful of high-profile defections will shake its position there-not so long as thousands of small and midsize developers and companies endeavor to offer their wares there. But Apple's policies nonetheless provide an opening for other application-store owners, including Google and Hewlett-Packard, to offer more beneficial terms to application creators, and thus carve off a little more market share for themselves.
Amazon's new move won't radically shake up the application landscape, and-despite some borderline-hysterical commentary to the contrary-it's not the beginning of the end for Apple. But it does open the door a little wider for Web-based applications, and perhaps offers an opportunity to Apple's rivals to draw in some additional application creators.
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Nicholas Kolakowski is a staff editor at eWEEK, covering Microsoft and other companies in the enterprise space, as well as evolving technology such as tablet PCs. His work has appeared in The Washington Post, Playboy, WebMD, AARP the Magazine, AutoWeek, Washington City Paper, Trader Monthly, and Private Air. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.