This week Kobo, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and a number of other companies updated their iOS apps to comply with Apple’s new rules for in-app payments. Basically if you’re not going to use Apple’s system for collecting payments, the company wants you to stop using the app to collect payments at all. Rather than give Apple a 30% cut of proceeds, these companies have taken the latter approach.
Now Kobo is planning on going a step further. The digital book provider is working on a new mobile app designed using web tools such as HTML5. When it’s ready, users will be able to use the Kobo app by visiting a web site in a web browser. If you’re using an iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad you’ll be able to save the app to your home screen so that you can even synchronize your book collection with your mobile device. In other words, you’ll be able to read eBooks in the Kobo web app even if you don’t have an active internet connection — just as you would with a native app.
Of course, this approach could save Kobo a lot of money, but only if the company manages to convince people to install the web app. Part of the appeal of the App Store is that it’s designed to make app discovery easy. I guess we’ll find out soon whether Kobo has enough clout to convince people to install an app they didn’t discover in the App Store. At the very least, existing Kobo users trying to figure out how they’re supposed to purchase eBooks now that there’s no link to the web store in the mobile app will probably go to the web site to see what’s up.
As an added bonus, since the new app will be built with HTML5, it should work on any platform that supports the web standard. This means that the same app should work on iOS, Android, webOS, and other mobile operating systems.