Amazon's expanding the capabilities of its Kindle apps, starting with Android, to include digital newspaper and magazines singly or in subscription form. Just in time for the iPad "Daily" newspaper.
Amazon's press release notes the update is the "first Kindle app" to receive the code so users can "buy, read and sync over 100 Kindle newspapers and magazines, including the New York Times, Newsweek, and The Atlantic." Android Kindle app owners can "now buy a single issue or subscribe to the most popular newspapers and magazines," get them auto-delivered, and "enjoy a full color reading experience optimized for the touch interface of Android-powered devices." There are also a few other tweaks to the Kindle Android powers, including downloads of texts inside the app, social net sharing of bookmarks, image zooming and so on.
But the biggest aspect of this is that Amazon's pushing newspaper and magazine subscriptions into its apps, instead of only via its dedicated Kindle e-reader. It's designed to directly compete with Apple's iPad, which is making huge strides in reinventing the magazine publishing game, and garnering big headlines—and it's timed to coincide with a surge in Android phones becoming available, and going on sale over the holiday season, and before Android tablets begin to arrive in bigger numbers in early 2011. In some senses the Kindle app now also beats Apple's own efforts at getting news and magazines onto tablet PCs, because while Amazon offers a mechanism to allow subscriptions, this is still a sticking point for publishers on Apple's platform. Admittedly, the rich experience of the iPad magazine and news apps can't be matched with a "dead" e-publication inside Kindle, but the point is still valid.
Perhaps a bigger clue as to why Amazon's doing this comes from rumors from Peter Kafka of AllThingsD, who is placing a launch date of January 17th on "The Daily." This is the much-hyped daily all-digital newspaper effort coming from Rupert Murdoch's news stables, backed with significant investment and, apparently, direct help from Apple's exec and technical teams. If it succeeds (which may, or may not be a long shot), the Daily could be a model for how the news industry may be transformed by the tablet PC revolution. Amazon could be trying to capture valuable mind-share before the market gets entirely upended in 2011.
To read more news on this, and similar stuff, keep up with my updates by following me, Kit Eaton, on Twitter.