How The Kindle Fire Will Attack The iPad: Newsstand

Amazon announced today that the Kindle Fire Newsstand will offer over 400 full-color subscription publications. Anyone who subscribes before March 1, 2012 will get a free three-month trial of Vanity Fair, GQ, Wired and 14 other Condé Nast magazines. Amazon’s new tablet hits stores next week, and Amazon has boosted the initial shipment twice to keep up with demand.

This is one of the most anticipated tablet launches since Apple’s iPad, and the comparison is inevitable. But there are lots of differences between the two devices for consumers. Still, Apple’s Newsstand feature of iOS 5 has turned out to be a huge success for the publishing industry, thanks to the iPad. Amazon is using the Kindle Fire to confront that head on, right down to the name.

Tablets Are Changing Reading

The Kindle Fire is centered around media consumption, Amazon’s specialty, whereas Apple positions the iPad to be for more than that, a “post-PC” replacement for productivity tasks. Nevertheless, reading has been one of the activities most deeply disrupted by the iPad.

When the iPad launched in 2010, the magazine industry swarmed to populate it. Standalone app magazines took off, but they quickly tanked. But with the launch of iOS 5 in October, Apple created its Newsstand folder, which automatically organizes and updates publications. The initial crop of Newsstand magazines have built some amazing reading experiences.

The Newsstand Bump

Major magazines, many of whose apps floundered on the iPad at first, have seen sales come soaring back. Condé Nast’s publications, whose iPad rise and fall we covered in 2010, has seen a 268% jump in subscriptions since the launch of Apple’s Newsstand.

Now Amazon will make a run for that same market, and lots of consumers are waiting to see how the Fire turns out. A survey recently found that 26% of likely Fire buyers are delaying purchase of an iPad. With a device that’s less than half the price of the iPad and coming to 16,000 U.S. retail stores, the Kindle Fire is positioned to cash in on the publishing boom sparked by the iPad.

Check out our interview with Instapaper’s Marco Arment for insight into how tablets are changing reading habits.

Are you getting a new reading gadget this holiday season? Which one?

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