Beyond iPad: Kindle Edition

Here's a bit of proof that publishers are thinking beyond the iPad. Kindle, shortly after my previous post  giving market share reasons for moving beyond the iPad, came out with a Web app version of its interface. The pictures below show a key difference, and herald a battle between Apple and media app makers. The top image is a screen grab of the Kindle iPad app. Below, the Web app. Can you spot the crucial difference?

Give it a shot before reading on. Click on the image if you want it larger. OK, here's my answer SPOILER ALERT: The key difference is the "Kindle Store" button in the top right of the Web app version. Like the Financial Times before it, Amazon has decided to try to entice users to access its materials on the Web.

By doing so, Kindle avoids Apple's prohibition on having a direct "buy" button to get books from within an Apple-approved app (other than Apple's own iBooks). People go to what is actually a Web site to the get the Kindle Web app, rather than to Apple's iTunes store.  And when they get the app, they get a little button popping up (similar to the FT's) asking them to install Kindle "Cloud Reader" on their home screens. That creates a button much like any app button (see the image at bottom of this post to see how the FT's looks).

If people start using the Web app, Kindle can sell more books directly from iPad users and get around any other onerous restrictions Apple may place. (Yes, Apple could, I suppose, sniff for Web apps on its devices and start to defeat them. But that would likely start to chip away at some of the love Apple gets from users of its tablets and spur at least incremental sales of other, more open ones trying to get traction, such as the Acer tablet released today in the latest Android Honeycomb standard.)

Kindle creator Amazon might also another motive beyond direct sales getting its own user data from people using the app, rather than ceding it to Apple, which doesn't share. Plus, anyone who uses a Web app gets to keep 100% of the revenue they make, rather than giving Apple the 30% cut it takes from people who purchase apps through iTunes. (The 30% argument is applicable for FT, if not Kindle.)

The technology making this all possible is HTML5, the latest version of HTML, which when combined with other also open code like Javascript gives publishers the ability to do some pretty amazing things from within a browser such as Safari or Windows, and not have to write a device-specific app in a proprietary platform such as Apple's iOS. Yes, iPad is the dominant tablet device and will continue to be for some time. But it's not the only one. And people want to make apps that aren't beholden to the iOS operating system, ones that are more flexible, probably cheaper over time, and also give the creator more control.

The FT Web app button is shown bottom left here. It looks like an app button.

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