Amazon’s iOS Kindle app provides a similar experience to Apple’s iBooks, but the Kindle store has long provided a better and more intuitive shopping experience than the muddled iBookstore. There’s also a lot more content on offer. However, when Apple implemented rules a few months ago demanding a 30 percent take of all in-app purchases, the Kindle app (and others like it), put the buying back on their website. With yesterday’s launch of the iPad Kindle Store, a web page made just for the iOS Safari browser, they have put the shopping experience back where it belongs, while sidestepping Apple policies. Well, almost.
Amazon has made a series of small steps that have combined to create a nice little iOS ecosystem for Kindle readers. It started with the launch of their Cloud Reader in August. This created an almost interchangeable browser-based app from which purchases can be made. The web-app is nice, but shoppers were still stuck with lacklustre Amazon iOS apps or the generic web view.
In December, Amazon updated the Kindle app to include a Newsstand section and iPad-tailored magazine subscriptions, again circumventing Apple’s fees. Yesterday, with the new iPad storefront, Kindle’s range of products and a shopper’s ability to get them now feel, if not native, certainly well integrated, thus completing the package.
Amazon uses the iPad screen space to maximum advantage. The pseudo-app has suggestions based on user profiles and the top 100 paid and free titles front and center. There are large cover views and page samples. Browsing by NYT Bestsellers, popularity or genre is easy to do from a left-side navigation bar. Readers can access user reviews and other goodies found on Amazon.com, reformatted to take advantage of the iPad’s touchscreen and gestures that are intuitive and familiar. Upon first use, the page even offers to create an app-like icon to launch Safari using the Kindle iPad Store as the default home page.
Users are encouraged to use the Cloud Reader, which syncs with all Kindle products and devices running Kindle apps, and when one-click buying is enabled, purchases made appear within the app instantly.
As to Amazon’s motives, it all comes down to market share. Amazon still has a much wider selection of books, and while the Kindle Fire may never outsell Apple’s tablet, iPad bibliophiles are going to buy their digital reads somewhere. Kindle runs across all platforms and even permits lending. Rather than give Apple the time to fill out and overhaul their print media stores, Amazon is capitalizing on their brand and catalog. They’re clearly doing well, even on Apple’s turf.