Amazon has sent a clear message to Apple that its rules on in-app purchases are unacceptable, launching an iPad-compatible web-based Kindle Reader with full access to the company's ebook store.
The Kindle Cloud Reader, while supporting Chrome and Safari on the desktop, is proudly described by Amazon as "optimised for iPad," and it's not hard to see why. Apple's rules on in-app purchases - which require that all such purchases go through Apple's approved channels, and that see the Cupertino-based company skim around 30 per cent of the proceeds for itself - have already led to Amazon removing the ability to buy ebooks from its Kindle iOS app.
Without the ability to buy Kindle books, however, the Kindle iOS app loses much of its appeal. While it's still possible to buy the book on another device - such as a desktop or laptop visiting Amazon's web shop - and have it transferred to the iOS app automatically, much of Amazon's Kindle success is thanks to impulse buying. Having to move to a different device, find the book you want, buy it, and then wait for it to appear in the iOS app hinders that possibility.
The new Kindle Cloud Reader works around Apple's rules: designed to replace the Kindle iOS app, it's technically a website rather than an app and so doesn't fall foul of Apple's 30 per cent rule. As a result, it has full and unrestricted access to the Kindle Store, and Amazon doesn't have to give Apple anything in return.
Amazon has also managed to perform some technological marvels to ensure that users aren't inconvenienced by the switch. Those with Wi-Fi-only iPads, for example, will be able to continue reading a book on the Cloud Reader even when no Internet connection is available.
While only Chrome and Safari are supported at present, additional browsers are due to be added to the service soon, in a move which could potentially open Cloud Reader up to Android-based devices and remove the need for Amazon to keep developing its standalone Kindle app. With Google not attempting to skim money from in-app purchases in the same way as Apple, however, Amazon is unlikely to consider the Android port a top priority.