Kobo Thumbs Its Nose At Apple With An HTML5 E-reader App

Apple’s put the boot down on in-app stores that circumvent its own App Store (and 30% surcharge), a move that’s changed and, some argue, hindered the look and feel of e-reader apps. To skirt the rules, Kobo is launching a web app for its e-reader.


Apple has forced all apps that contain access to a non-Apple store for more content to remove direct links to the store. In some ways, it’s a move to keep control of the App Store and maintain the generally high quality borne of Apple’s curation. In other ways, it’s an example of closed-minded thinking. For one thing, it’s changed how e-reader apps like Amazon’s Kindle work from a user point of view, perhaps detrimentally. And while Amazon and Nook have complied with Apple’s wishes, peer e-reader Kobo is taking its offering to an HTML5 solution, totally sidestepping Apple’s authoritarian ways.

Kobo’s pretty blunt about it in its press release: “Following recent App Store policy changes imposed by Apple, Kobo, a global leader in eReading with over 4 million readers worldwide, announced today that development is underway on an HTML5 eReading web app. With the development of the HTML5 app, Kobo will continue to provide the most optimized experience for iOS users and users on other Kobo platforms.”

Kobo’s thumbing its nose at Apple, and by highlighting that it believes “consumers should have the freedom to read on any device, at any time, anyplace in the world” it’s intimating that Apple doesn’t believe the same. Of course, Kobo’s team is wise to the fact Apple currently owns the tablet market. But the updated Kobo iOS app is still pretty great, even if you have to go through a weird process of launching Safari to go to the e-bookstore, and then go back into the app to read the book you’ve bought.

Kobo has a point. Apple’s trying to push readers toward its own iBooks e-bookstore–the only one on the iPad and iPhone now that has an integrated store within the ereader app itself–which is the kind of slick user experience detail that may actually sway some users. But iBooks is effectively a dead, useless app in many countries around the world because Apple hasn’t sealed e-book publishing rights in every nation. By demanding App publishers use its approved content-buying policies, and forcing them to follow a strange browser-shopping based experience, Apple’s muddling the way e-reader apps work for all of these users. 

[Image: Flickr user Capt. Tim]

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