Many companies start singing R.E.M’s “It’s the end of the world as we know it” when they learn about Apple’s App Store rule that demands there be a in-app purchase option (where Apple takes 30% of the cut) if an app has any sort of subscription service. Amazon removed the button to the Kindle Store in the Kindle app two weeks ago in order to abide by the rules without paying Apple 30% of everything, and now they’ve just released a HTML5 web app that replaces the App Store app altogether. HTML5 is basically the new Swiss Army Knife of making apps that run in a browser, and it works with everything from video and games to things like the Kindle ereader app. It’s rapidly replacing Flash as it’s much more efficient and can be used to create web pages that act like apps.
The new Kindle HTML5 app is accessed by visiting read.amazon.com in a tablet browser, and it gives you an interface which is at least as impressive as the actual Kindle app. A special HTML5 version of the Kindle Store is built in, the page can create a cache to work offline, and saving a bookmark on the home screen on an iPad will create a icon that looks like an app icon and launches the app in a toolbar-free window (so you don’t have the address bar etc visible).
All in all the new web app works wonderfully and just goes to show how a dedicated app is often not needed. The video streaming service Vudu has done the same thing and there are countless others out there that are following the same route. From a developer point of view the HTML5 route is also much better in terms of updates, as you don’t have to go through Apple to get anything approved. The only thing you’re missing is the marketing that the App Store provides, and since that’s the only thing that Apple can claim to provide for those 30% they demand it’s a fitting trade off.
Hit the jump for screenshots from the web app.[TUAW]