Amazon could have taken the easy way out and either (a) not created an iPad app, figuring customers can use Safari to get to amazon.com or (b) created an iPad app that's nothing more than a quick-and-dirty version of their website. They went with option "c" though and produced an app that's highly engaging and makes you want to explore and discover more. How many retailer apps can say that?!
What do I like about this one? Let's start with the fact that it focuses on my interests. Sure, most if not all of the personalized recommendations in the iPad app are accessible through amazon.com, but they're scattered all across the page, above and below the fold. The app presents them in a way that really makes me want to see what's new. In fact, I've done more deep dives into these lists via the app than I've ever done on Amazon's web site.
Next up, Amazon wasn't afraid to experiment with the user interface. I totally love the product details pages. (I've included a sample screen shot of one in the top left corner of this post; click on it for a larger view.) Each of those three objects that look like sheets of paper (Details & Features, More to Explore... and Customer Reviews) can be tapped to enlarge, all without ever leaving the main product page itself. It's a clever way of offering quick and easy access to a lot more content than can fit on the iPad's screen. The result is a very clean UI; compare that to the extremely busy and cluttered product page on Amazon's website. In fact, I'm hoping Amazon's website team considers implementing some of their iPad app's simplicity.
I like this app so much I've given it one of the precious slots on my iPad's home screen. I open it almost every day, curious to know what's new and whether something is worth buying. I'm sure that's music to Amazon's ears.
P.S. -- So if they can build a terrific retailing app, why are they unable to improve their Kindle app for the iPad? As I've said before, Amazon needs to make an even bigger investment in the Kindle iPad app. Apple's iBooks app is already better and will undoubtedly add more features in the future.
Amazon, your Whispersync technology is great. The fact that Apple doesn't have an iBooks reader for the iPhone (yet!) means you've got an app availability advantage over them. I love it that I can read part of a book on my iPad then switch to my iPhone and pick right up where I left off. Wonderful. But soon that feature will feel as old and unappreciated as Whispernet does today. Don't make the same mistake you made with the Kindle hardware platform. Be bold and invest in the Kindle readers on all the platforms. Make them the envy of the rest of the industry. You've got the resources, so stop letting these apps feel like an inferior reading experience to the Kindle itself, OK?