There isn’t any doubt that Amazon’s Kindle dedicated eBook readers are a success around the world and now the online retailing giant could be looking to step up its game. After Google just launched its own eBook store, Google eBookstore, word is going around the Amazon is gearing up to launch a new web app version of Kindle.
At Google’s Chrome OS event, reps from Amazon showed off Kindle for the Web, which lets users read Kindle books online — no Kindle required.
The idea of reading Kindle books without a Kindle isn’t new; Amazon has offered apps for PCs, Macs, and mobile devices for a while. What’s new is that now you can read your books on a browser on any machine, without any software download.
Although the app launched in conjunction with the Chrome OS launch, Nick Mancuso, a technical program manager for Kindle for the Web, said that the new Kindle app was designed not to be Chrome OS-specific. However, it does use HTML 5, which Google and Apple have favored over Adobe’s Flash technology.
Amazon’s Kindle for the Web also supports hyperlinks, which theoretically could be used to link one book to another, if an author referenced Moby Dick, for example. Mancuso said that customers haven’t asked Amazon for such an experience yet, but that Amazon could provide it if they did.
One e-reader not supported by Google’s e-books is the Kindle. Google says that’s because the Kindle doesn’t work with Adobe’s ACS4 technology, which is used to lock e-books to specific Google accounts.
Amazon’s announcement comes one day after Google unveiled its eBooks store, whose cloud-storage functionality is very similar. However, since Amazon touted Kindle for the Web at a Google event, it’s unclear how the two companies see their respective services competing.
For his part, Mancuso said he didn’t see the two competing, as Google launched its bookstore in an apps-based format, while Amazon bases its store around the Kindle e-reader devices. “And we just added a browser,” Mancuso said, referring to the experimental Webkit browser on the latest Kindle.
Amazon also showed off “Windowshop,” essentially a Google Images-like version of the Amazon shopping experience. (Amazon has already created a version for the Apple iPad.) When the Web app is loaded, users see a horizontally-scrolling view of all the items in the Amazon store, arranged according to relevance – but not relevance to the user, but the most popular items on Amazon, Mancuso said. Users can also view each item alphabetically, Mancuso said. Each item can be viewed with its associated reviews, as one normally would.