Legal, Local, Management

Amazon dodges Apple control with Kindle browser

Michelle Hammond /

Amazon has dodged Apple’s strict in-app rules by launching a browser-based version of its Kindle eBook application, with experts saying the move could prompt other companies to follow suit.

 

Earlier this year, Apple came under fire when it announced new rules for the purchasing of products from applications running on its devices.

 

The rules prohibit links and buttons that allow a company to sell goods outside of its own sales system.

 

Apple currently takes a 30% share of content sold through its iPad and iPhone apps. The rules suggested the company could extract this fee for every book sold through Kindle’s iPad app.

 

Amazon and other companies were forced to remove their in-app links to comply with the new conditions.

 

However, Amazon has since launched a browser-based version of its Kindle eBook app called the Kindle Cloud Reader.

 

While the software is optimised for iPad tablets, it directs customers to Amazon’s own eBook store instead of using Apple’s purchasing system, ultimately avoiding the 30% charge on in-app purchases levied by Apple.

 

Kindle Cloud Reader can run on PCs, Macs and mobile devices using the Apple Safari or Google Chrome web browser.

 

The application is not regarded as a “native” program because it runs in a webpage and therefore isn’t subject to Apple restrictions.

 

However, using the latest HTML5 web technology, Cloud Reader looks like a native app and even saves books onto the user’s device for reading offline.

 

A button on the webpage takes users to Amazon’s Kindle Store where they can purchase new items.

 

Stephen Pinches, group product manager of emerging technologies at FT.com, told the BCC he is optimistic about the future of web apps.

 

“We believe that in many cases, native apps are simply a bridging solution while web technologies catch up. We expect to see more HTML5 apps and fewer native apps,” he said.

 

Amazon’s latest move suggests more companies may seek a web-based app solution that avoids restrictions placed on their sales policies by a single tablet maker.

 

“Customers are paying for the content rather than the channel… A single payment and single subscription, which works across multiple devices, offers significant benefits to users,” Pinches said.

 

Meanwhile, a leading IT lawyer says escalating legal battles between gadget-makers could result in price increases for consumers, following the latest development in the battle between Apple and Samsung.

 

Earlier this week, Apple had another victory in its patent row with Samsung after a German court banned Samsung from selling its new iPad rival in all but one European Union countries.

 

The news comes just a week after Samsung postponed the launch of its Galaxy Tab 10.1 in Australia until an Apple lawsuit is resolved.

 

Samsung’s smartphones and tablet computers, which are based on Google’s Android operating system, have become the most serious threat to Apple’s market dominance.

 

David Webber, a partner with law firm Davies Collison Cave, says the patent battles are likely to hit consumers in the hip pocket.

 

“I suspect it will end up increasing the cost of Android handsets and forcing some changes to move it further away from the Apple operating system,” he says.

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