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Amazon Kindle Cloud Reader gives alternative to Apple rules

updated 08:40 am EDT, Wed August 10, 2011

Kindle Cloud Reader carries offline support

Amazon has quietly provided an end-run around Apple's App Store rules. Kindle Cloud Reader brings a touch-friendly reading app that provides all the settings, highlights, bookmarks and other features of native apps in a device-independent form. The page takes advantage of HTML5 to work entirely offline and thus can keep going even during a flight or another moment where no Internet connection exists.

Any current book is automatically cached for offline, but readers can download specific titles in the browser. Chrome and Chrome OS users can pin it as an app. Anyone can sync their most recent place in a book when the app is online.

The Cloud Reader brings book shopping back to iPad owners and has a new, touch-optimized store instead of simply pushing readers to the regular web page.

Initial access to the web version works on any modern mobile or desktop version of Safari as well as Chrome and Chrome OS. Other browsers, such as the BlackBerry PlayBook browser, Firefox, and Internet Explorer 9 will be available in the months ahead. Support depends on the browser recognizing HTML5 offline content.

Amazon along with other competitors had to remove its web store link from its native iPad app in late July after Apple began enforcing its policy on in-app content against major developers. Apple has argued that it would only be "fair" for purchases in the apps themselves to go through iTunes, but the move has made certain store business models unfeasible. Companies like Amazon and Kobo would likely have to sell books at a loss or else raise their prices to accommodate Apple's 30 percent cut, giving Apple an inherent competitive advantage with its own store.

by MacNN Staff



  1. lamewing

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Too bad

    It's too bad Amazon had to resort to this. If Apple had asked for a reasonable amount (30% WTF?) Amazon wouldn't have had to resort to this action. There is simply no way to defend such a large money grab.

  1. Peter Bonte

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Amazon takes more than 30%

    For books in the Kindle store Amazon takes 30%, for cheap books Amazon takes 70% and an extra $3 for every e-book purchased outside the US. Talk about a money grab, Apple's price is very reasonable imho.

  1. testudo

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Re: Amazon takes more

    The question isn't Apple's price. The problem is Apple's demand that "You either sell through us, or you can't sell on the iOS." But not just anything. Nope, because I have an Amazon app and an ebay app and a newegg app, and Apple doesn't require them to give Apple a cut.

    But for digital content, Apple demands a cut or you can't sell through your app. Even though Apple is doing NOTHING at all to promote, sell, or push the product to the user, they want the sale. How, again, is this 'fair'?

  1. fignitus

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Cloud Reader is a terrible user experience

    I read Kindle books on my iPad and on a Kindle device. The Kindle Reader iPad native app is not as refined as the iBooks reader, but it still delivers a very good user experience. Not so for the Kindle Cloud Reader.

    -- Books take a long time to download for offline reading
    -- Just turning pages, I frequently get a "spinning gears" (waiting for) icon
    -- After downloading four books for offline reading, downloading a fifth PURGES THE FIRST FOUR!! WTF??
    -- Not as many choices for type size
    -- No "in-app" slider to control brightness
    -- No "sliding" page turning

    All so Amazon can have a "Buy Now" button within the app.

    Now, I prefer to purchase my Kindle content on my Mac and download it to my devices. If I didn't have a desktop computer, I could create a Kindle web store "button" on my iPad; it's not rocket science. But think about it: WHERE ELSE AM I GOING TO BUY KINDLE CONTENT?

    What Amazon has done is sacrifice good user experience for the "convenience" of a button that directs me to the Kindle store... where I'd have to go anyway to buy Kindle content. It would just take a couple more steps.

    Cloud Reader is, on the surface, an impressive "proof of concept" of what HTML5 can do. Unfortunately, while Cloud Reader looks more or less like its native counterpart, it's NOT capable of replicating the native app's reading experience. HTML5 may be the future, but if Cloud Reader is any indication, it's not, as the saying goes, fully baked.

    Apple deserves their 30 percent cut for app sales. It costs a LOT to build and maintain the app store infrastructure. But Apple is being incredibly greedy and short-sighted with their in-app purchase policy, at least when it comes to books. I've worked in book retailing, and know the margins (30-40 percent). Apple's policy, as far as Amazon is concerned, grabs ALL the profits. I think it's fair that Apple get a small fee, but not so much that it drives Amazon to replace a good iPad app with a piece-of-junk web app that's an insult to its customers.

    Cloud Reader is so bad that I considered re-purchasing my content from iBooks. But guess what? I CAN'T. iBooks does not have nearly the same selection as the Kindle store. So where does that leave me, and the many other Amazon customers who like to read Kindle content on the iPad? Oh, right. Cloud Reader. BARF!

    I don't know the numbers, but I'd venture to say a fair number of iPad owners use their device to read books. If Apple makes it impossible to have a good reading experience with anything but iBooks--and then offers a lesser selection of books for sale--Apple is not giving its customers what they want, nor treating them with respect.

    Still, Amazon has a choice in how to respond to Apple's short-sightedness. Assuming Amazon plans to kill their native iPad app, the choice they've made is to to spit on their customers. And then LIE by saying that Cloud Reader is equal in user experience to the native iPad Kindle app.


    I'd better bite my tongue, and hit the submit button.

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