A year after Apple changed its rules about digital content sales for iOS applications, Amazon is striking back with its own workaround for Kindle eBook sales on the iPad.This workaround is allowing Amazon to avoid paying Apple the exorbitant 30% cut of every book sold that Apple’s policies demand.
Amazon has introduced the iPad Kindle Store, a web application that emulates a native app allowing users to search for eBooks on their iPad. After you find the book you want, it is supposed to seamlessly end up in the iPad Kindle app.
We have a complete demonstration of what it looks like and how it works here.
Our only complaint is that we were only given the option of sending the Kindle book to our iPad, as opposed to our Kindle or the iPhone. Just because we are shopping for a new Kindle book on the iPad doesn’t mean we want to read it on the iPad. Other than that it worked well, after we updated our Kindle iPad app*.
We think this is a brilliant, if obvious, move from Amazon.
Apple said last year applications couldn’t link to digital content outside of the application unless it offered that same digital content inside the application. Apple spokeswoman Trudy Miller explained to us saying, “We are now requiring that if an app offers customers the ability to purchase books outside of the app, that the same option is also available to customers from within the app with in-app purchase.”
What she doesn’t say is that Amazon would have to pay Apple a 30% cut of every eBook sold in the Kindle app. That would crush Amazon’s already tiny (possibly non-existent) margins on eBook sales. Amazon said to hell with that and just pulled its link to the Kindle store from its iPad and iPhone applications. So far it hasn’t slowed down Amazon, which just announced record Kindle sales.
To make life easier for Kindle app users on the iPad, Amazon has now released this custom web app store. It’s not available for the iPhone yet, but we assume we’ll see it there soon. (The fact that it’s iPad first suggests the iPad is much more popular for Amazon’s Kindle books. We’re a little surprised since we prefer reading Kindle books on the iPhone over the iPad.)
Over time, look for other media companies to follow Amazon’s lead and build out their own web app stores to avoid Apple’s 30% tax.
*UPDATE: Initially we wrote that we had problems with the Kindle iPad store after we couldn’t get samples to appear in the app. Turns out it was our error, we didn’t have the latest version of the app. This post has been edited to reflect our use with the updated app.
And we got this web-based reader. Frankly, it's not that good. Really jerky page turning, not very good. The native app is much better.
The Kindle bookstore needs a few tweaks here and there but overall, it's a good first effort. We expect to see more of this from media companies in the future.