If there's one place where the Cloud Reader has it all over the native iPad app, it's in buying books. Even before Apple demanded that Amazon remove the Kindle Store button from the Kindle app, buying books on the iPad was a suboptimal: you still had to use Safari to navigate through the standard Amazon.com website until you found the book you wanted to buy.
On the home screen of the Cloud Reader there's a Kindle Store button, but it doesn't do what the old iPad app did. Instead, it opens a Kindle Store interface right within the Cloud Reader. This isn't the Amazon.com website for PCs: it's designed with a tablet in mind, right down to a row of swipable book covers at the very top. You've got quick access to various book lists, and there's a search box to find any other book you're looking for.
And here's the best part: Once you decide you want to buy a book, you tap the Buy button. That's it. You're already logged in to Amazon.com, so if you've got 1-Click ordering turned on, tapping Buy will immediately purchase the book. One more tap and it's open. It's instant gratification on a level that users of the Kindle store on the iPad haven't gotten before.
It's a shame this sort of experience can't be integrated in the native iOS version of the Kindle app, but Apple has made it clear that it won't allow that, so here we are.
Now Kindle users have a choice when it comes to the iPad. The native Kindle app found in the App Store is smoother, faster, and offers more flexibility. The Kindle Cloud Reader, at least in this first iteration, shows some of the limitations of relying on Web technologies. No, it's not as good as the native app--but it's still pretty good, and will undoubtedly get better. And when it comes to buying books, its attractive and integrated Kindle Store is vastly superior to the no-help approach forced on Amazon's native app by Apple's App Store guidelines.
I can't really recommend that Kindle users on the iPad dump the native Kindle app for this new Kindle Cloud Reader--at least not yet. Certainly most non-technical users are going to keep searching for the native app in the App Store and installing it from there. But the Kindle Cloud Reader bears watching: It shows that while native apps have the lead for now, web apps are coming on strong.