Amazon may be plotting a way around Apple's new rules on subscriptions and in-app purchases for iPhone, iPod touch and iPad users. With reports suggesting the new rules could cost Amazon up to $160m a year, a move to the mobile Web could be the answer.
Amazon was expected to be one of the hardest hit by Apple's new rules, which specifically dictate that "publishers may no longer provide links in their apps (to a website, for example) which allow the customer to purchase content or subscriptions outside of the app."
That's exactly what Amazon's Kindle app for iOS does. Analysts at Merrill Lynch claimed this week that the changes -- under which Amazon would have to sell ebooks using Apple's in-app billing and give away a 30 per cent cut of the revenues -- could cost Amazon between $80m and $160m a year.
Ouch. But this is where the mobile Web may come to the rescue for Amazon and its Kindle app customers.
Author Chuck Toporek has published a blog post pointing to Amazon's development of Kindle for the Web, which launched in beta last September, and currently lets people read chapter previews of Kindle ebooks in their browsers.
"While this works seamlessly on the desktop and iPad, getting Kindle for the Web to work on an iPhone takes a little extra work, but it can be done," he writes.
"Instead of using the Kindle app, iOS users can just point Safari to Amazon's site, buy the Kindle ebook, and read it right there in Safari. No app required."
Reading Kindle ebooks in Safari rather than a native app will have its restrictions -- the requirement to be connected for example -- but it's certainly one workaround for Amazon.
In separate Apple-new-subscription-rules news, PayPal has come out swinging against the new policy. Its VP of global product and experience Sam Shrauger has published his own blog post criticising the changes.
"We have heard from a number of publishers since last week who are outraged at Apple's 30 per cent cut, as well as the specification that they cannot offer content outside their app at the same price or less," he writes.
"The message is pretty clear from the publisher community, paying 30 per cent in fees isn't a sustainable business model."
PayPal has its own pricing system for people to charge for digital content in their apps -- PayPal for Digital Goods -- although Apple's new rules could squeeze it out of native iOS apps too.