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Kobo Strikes Back By Developing Web App

By - Source: Kobo | B 8 comments

Kobo is getting around Apple's new rules by creating an HTML5-based version of its popular e-book reader.

Recently we reported that e-book retailers including Barnes & Noble, Amazon and Kobo were forced to alter their iOS apps thanks to a change in Apple's policy which kicked into gear back in February. Essentially retailers are forced to (1) remove links/buttons to external e-bookstores that are embedded within their apps and (2) shell out 30-percent of what the apps generate if retailers want to sell media (e-books, e-magazines, etc) within their apps. Changes to the apps are expected to be made by July 31.

Given that 30-percent is quite a slice of profit, Barnes & Noble, Amazon and Kobo chose to simply remove the e-bookstore links in their iOS apps. Unfortunately, that means consumers can't purchase e-books from within NOOK, Kindle and Kobo – all purchases must be done through a web browser or through a non-iOS app (like Android etc).

"Over the past weeks, Kobo has worked with Apple to create a solution that would benefit the iOS eReading community within Apple's new App Store guidelines," the company said. "Unfortunately, Apple has mandated that Kobo, along with all eBook retailers, substantially change the eReading experience for consumers by removing in-app access to the Kobo store."

That said, Kobo isn't going down without a fight. While the company has already altered its iOS e-reader app in compliance with Apple's new rules, the company plans to dodge around the Apple snafu by creating an HTML5-based app. Although it will only be available via an Apple-approved web browser, consumers will be able to read, browse, shop and share on smartphones, tablets, netbooks, laptops and desktop computers.

"Kobo believes in providing an open platform for users, and our HTML5 development will support the company's current app strategy to reach a broader base of users worldwide," said Michael Serbinis, CEO, Kobo.  "HTML5 allows us to add more features and update our popular Reading Life social experience far more quickly, providing an agile method to deliver advanced enhancements to consumers without limitation."

The HTML5 version is expected to arrive later this year, conveniently around the same time Facebook's "Project Spartan" HTML5-based platform will supposedly launch. There's now even talk that the social website is talking with browser developers to incorporate Credits so that users can purchase goods within these HTML5-based apps. But there's also speculation that Facebook may reel in about 30-percent from the sale of virtual goods. So far it's not known if this is strictly due to using Credits, or if it's a requirement for publishing apps on the Project Spartan platform.

Regardless, Kobo seems to think that HTML5 is the way to go. "Kobo's move to provide an HTML5 web app will offer additional convenience to consumers and deliver a rich and seamless experience to Kobo app users across platforms, including Android, RIM and HP WebOS," the company said.

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Top Comments
  • 14 Hide
    socalboomer , July 27, 2011 9:08 PM
    Go Kobo! Stupid policy of Apple's - just another money-grab.
Other Comments
  • 14 Hide
    socalboomer , July 27, 2011 9:08 PM
    Go Kobo! Stupid policy of Apple's - just another money-grab.
  • 7 Hide
    coldmast , July 27, 2011 9:25 PM
    It does everything including taking 30% profits for "services" that make it's device look better.

    I think it would be hilarious if Apple Store Employees started marking 30% gratuity on all purchases or service.
  • 8 Hide
    mianmian , July 27, 2011 9:54 PM
    30%, That's apple tax !
  • 4 Hide
    dalethepcman , July 27, 2011 10:19 PM
    Here is Apple's logic in a nutshell.

    You make a kick but app, Apple agrees to put your app in its stores. It makes an "if you don't have an iphone" commercial featuring your app because its so cool. Apple sees you making millions, it then copies the functionality of your app, and changes its service agreement making it no longer possible for you to make profit from your app by increasing its fee's to higher than your profit margin. You hire lawyers to fight Apple in court, they have more lawyers and bankrupt you and your company in legal fee's.

    Thus another Magical feature is born into the iFamily. Apple innovation at its finest.
  • 0 Hide
    psiboy , July 28, 2011 12:18 AM
    where are the authorities on this one? Antitrust? Anticompetetive behaviour...
  • 3 Hide
    liveonc , July 28, 2011 12:28 AM
    You wanna make it easier for people to purchase e-books, NOT harder. I can't even buy an e-book on my Sony Reader from Sony's American/Canadian site because my credit card isn't American/Canadian! If I wanted to read e-books on a TFT, I wouldn't have bought a Sony Reader. These e-books cost more then apps & I'm not willing to spend money on apps, but I'm willing to spend money on e-books. I can purchase bus/train tickets via SMS, get Angry Birds via Android Market, but if I want an e-book, I'll have to connect my e-Reader to a PC, sync with Reader Library, purchase my e-book via a European site, only to find out that they have in the American/Canadian site, but NOT in the European sites. So I found a PDF scan of a physical book for free, downloaded it, & nobody made money that day!
  • 0 Hide
    gm0n3y , July 28, 2011 6:54 PM
    liveoncYou wanna make it easier for people to purchase e-books, NOT harder. I can't even buy an e-book on my Sony Reader from Sony's American/Canadian site because my credit card isn't American/Canadian! If I wanted to read e-books on a TFT, I wouldn't have bought a Sony Reader. These e-books cost more then apps & I'm not willing to spend money on apps, but I'm willing to spend money on e-books. I can purchase bus/train tickets via SMS, get Angry Birds via Android Market, but if I want an e-book, I'll have to connect my e-Reader to a PC, sync with Reader Library, purchase my e-book via a European site, only to find out that they have in the American/Canadian site, but NOT in the European sites. So I found a PDF scan of a physical book for free, downloaded it, & nobody made money that day!

    The issue with e-books, which you can't blame Sony/Kobo/Amazon/etc for, is that each book is distributed by different companies depending on the country and the money goes to different companies because of this. Its all about which publisher caries the book where you live. Its an antiquated system in modern times, but that's how it works.
  • 0 Hide
    gm0n3y , July 28, 2011 6:58 PM
    HTML5 really is hyping up to be the savior of the platform wars. Once most apps can just be made in HTML5 we can use the same app across all platforms (Windows, OSX, iOS, Android, Linux, Windows Phone, etc) without any interference from the platform itself. That means no Apple tax and no applications can be denied. Its puts the power into the hands of the developers. Since HTML5 is browser based, it should also help protect your device from the app hogging resources, installing malware, etc.
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