In our Digital IQ Index: Magazines study released this past summer, L2 explored the adoption of distinct mobile platforms to distribute the digital version of newsstand content.

Among the 87 titles examined, 59 were actively developing for iPad, and 43 had successfully released a bona fide “digital edition” of their print product within the iTunes Store. In fact, many of the gains observed on the iOS platform during the study period were fueled by the industry’s embrace of subscription support within iTunes starting in May.

While iTunes was quickly achieving parity in terms of content availability with both the Nook e-reader (52 books) and Zinio’s cross-platform application (38 books), the Kindle e-reader (only 17 books) appeared to be falling significantly behind. Two imminent events are expected to disrupt the balance of power L2 profiled 3 months ago.

First, the release of the Kindle Fire on November 15th will help nullify Kindle’s perceived disadvantage virtually overnight. The addition of 13 previously unavailable titles from Condé Nast (each with free 3-month access) will effectively double the number of titles available on Amazon’s platform. Second, tomorrow’s release of the iTunes Newsstand will offer cross-brand content management and automated delivery through one centralized iOS application.

Despite, the wide lead established by Apple (40M units expected to ship in 2011; 68% market share), the 2.5x price differential between the entry-level iPad and Amazon’s new tablet device is expected to propel Kindle Fire sales to 15M units by the end of 2013. These forecasts, substantiated by early preorder sales, significantly alter the mobile landscape and investment calculus facing publishers today.

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