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Amazon unveils Kindle Web app

Following yesterday's launch of Google's e-bookstore, Amazon introduces a Kindle app to let people read full e-books from within their browser.


Amazon plans to demo a Kindle Web app today as it tries to play catch-up with Google's new e-book effort.

An Amazon spokeswoman reportedly confirmed the demonstration in an e-mail to ComputerWorld, saying that the new Kindle Web app would "enable users to read full books in the browser and [enable] any Website to become a bookstore offering Kindle books."

The e-commerce company didn't provide further details. ComputerWorld said that the new app wasn't ready yet but quoted a Gartner analyst who said it could be launched at the Consumer Electronics Show in January. The analyst added that he expects the new Kindle for the Web app to run on a proprietary Amazon operating system, but that would need to be changed for Amazon to compete with Google's new e-bookstore.

The option to read full e-books right within the browser mimics the capability found in the Google eBookstore, which hit the Web yesterday. Google's e-books are compatible with any Javascript-enabled browser and can be read on the go through dedicated mobile apps for Apple's iDevices and Android phones as well as the Sony eReader and Barnes & Noble Nook. An autosync feature lets people read books on one device and then pick up where they left off on another device.

Amazon's current Kindle app is available for a variety of platforms as well, including PCs, Macs, Apple iDevices, Android phones, and the BlackBerry. And it offers its own autosync technology called WhisperSync.

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 already holds a strong chunk of the e-book market, with the company telling CNET in August that it owns 70 percent to 80 percent of the market.

Update 11:42 a.m. PT: The Amazon site now is promoting Kindle reading apps: "Download and read Kindle books - no Kindle required." Also, the Kindle for the Web app made an appearance at this morning's Google event, which featured details on the Chrome Web store and a demo of a Chrome notebook.