Amazon’s Kindle iOS application received an update overnight, bringing some useful new features. But what might be more noteworthy is what it didn’t bring, in light of the recent rejection of Sony’s Reader application by Apple, and the introduction just this morning of a new in-app subscription system for iOS.
The update introduces real page numbers to Kindle books, a feature which Amazon outed for hardware Kindle users in its pre-release software beta Feb. 8. It also brings reading progress bars to your book index page, so you can see at a glance how far you’ve read. You can also now look up words in either Google or Wikipedia without leaving the Kindle app.
What’s more interesting, at least from the perspective of those concerned with how Apple does business, is that the update doesn’t include any changes in the way Kindle book purchases are handled. The Kindle Store link continues to exist in the upper right-hand corner of the app’s interface, and it continues to kick you out to the Amazon website in mobile Safari. This wouldn’t be cause for comment, had Apple not recently rejected Sony’s Reader app on the grounds that it didn’t provide a method for users to buy books in-app, and then made a public statement claiming it would be requiring all e-book sales to offer in-app purchasing going forward.
Then, just this morning, Apple announced in-app subscriptions, and made a point of noting that links to outside websites where customers could buy “content or subscriptions” (emphasis added) outside the app. Publishers are free to maintain storefronts on the web, they just can’t link to them. It hard to read that statement in a way that doesn’t refer specifically to how the Kindle app handles its business.
Yet, despite all Apple’s crowing regarding its new stance regarding in-app purchases in general, and the sale of e-books in particular, Amazon’s update came through to users without a hitch last night. The Kindle app still lacks support for magazines and periodicals, however, something Amazon said was coming to the platform, and which it recently introduced to the Android version of its mobile software. Apple may be unwilling to allow the introduction of those features until Amazon complies with its new in-app content policies.
Amazon is probably just benefitting from the grace period in place for publishers to comply with the new in-app purchasing system, which states that devs have until Jun. 30 to get their houses in order and submit a build using the in-app API. Other apps like Zinio that were offering content and subscriptions through external sites also haven’t been pulled or shut down, so that explanation seems most likely. If indeed there is a showdown coming between Apple and its major content providing partners, Jun. 30 is the date to watch.
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