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Another day, and another app publisher moves to the web to get around Apple’s in-app purchasing rules. This one is a biggie: Amazon today officially launched its Kindle Cloud Reader, a web app that lets people browse their Kindle books on the iPad and other devices and make Amazon (NSDQ: AMZN) purchases from within the app.
The app, which can be accessed here, works using HTML5 and is currently optimized to be used via Safari for iPad, Safari on desktop and Chrome — with more device and platform support (including the iPhone) presumably in the works. It comes as a complement to a number of native apps that Amazon has developed for iOS, PCs, Macs, Android devices and BlackBerry.
Like these apps, it offers an automatic and full synchronization with a users’ existing Kindle library, including an option for offline reading and a memory of what was last read in each text. Unlike some of these apps (namely the Kindle iPad app), it allows a user to make further Amazon purchases from the Kindle Store within the app itself.
One other detail is that for now it looks like you cannot make any notes in your texts, but you can view those you have already made on the Kindle or other Kindle apps. Will be worth watching to see if that also gets modified going forward.
Some eagle-eyed observers, like Chuck Toporek, noted months ago that Amazon actually started working on this app as far back as September last year (and possibly longer), with betas of the service coming out over the past several months.
In any case, this is probably the main reason behind why Amazon was not particularly outspoken about how it would ultimately negotiate the new terms for purchases dictated by Apple.
The Kindle Cloud Reader potentially gives Amazon a far greater degree of control over the app, and plays to the company’s other big strand of business around centralized, cloud-based services. It also gives a hint of how Amazon might deliver its Kindle services over a much-rumored Amazon tablet.
Several other app publishers have started to move to web-based apps — and several of them, like the FT and Readability, have done so in reaction to purchasing terms dictated by app store owners like Apple (NSDQ: AAPL).
Given Amazon’s size and scale, though, this could well end up being one of the mobile web’s killer apps.