You may recall that it was only a few weeks ago that Amazon bowed under pressure from Apple and updated their Kindle app for iOS by removing the controversial 'Shop From Store' button. While doing so didn't physically prevent iPad toting Kindle app users from buying their Kindle e-books through Amazon.com, it did force them to take the extra step of exiting the Kindle app, them surfing to Amazon.com on their Safari web browser in order to make purchases. Not a biggie to many people, but it was one of the higher stakes skirmishes in an escalating battle between Amazon and Apple over digital downloads (just wait until that Amazon tablet arrives to really heat things up). Amazon clearly doesn't like Apple throwing its weight around, especially when it comes to e-books and on August 10, a press release outlined a new Kindle product that represents Amazon's shot back at Apple.
Kindle Cloud Reader is a web-based version of Amazon's Kindle reader, optimized for Safari and Chrome web browsers; according to Amazon, support for additional browsers is coming soon, but the message in releasing first for the most popular browsers for Apple computers and IOs devices is quite clear. Amazon does not appreciate being told how to do business by Apple. The 'cloud' logo and even the name 'Kindle Cloud Reader' seem almost intentionally aimed at the attention garnered by Apple's iCloud services. That may be a coincidence, but somehow I doubt it.
Kindle Cloud is built using HTML 5 (the technology that Apple itself has been pushing as a Flash alternative), does not require download or installation (unlike the Kindle app for Mac), gives instant access to a user's Kindle library (including the ability to continue reading a title offline) and Amazon touts it as being optimized for iPad. How optimized? Well for one, users can buy Kindle books directly from Kindle Cloud Reader; as a browser based technology, it's not an app so it circumvents Apple's rules about direct purchases from within an iOS app. Amazon also says it's built from the ground up to take full advantage of the iPad's touch interface.
Kindle Cloud Reader isn't simply web access for reading an e-book, it offers a wide degree of customization, including the ability to set elements like font size and color, background color and page layout. All Kindle e-books in a user's library are available, including notes, highlights and bookmarks, along with support for syncing progress on a Kindle e-book across multiple devices. Any software updates are automatic. From a user perspective, Kindle Cloud Reader offers pretty much everything the Kindle Reader for iOS did and more. Plus no extra steps for buying Kindle e-books. Apple, your move.
Full press release here.