FirstPaper, a startup that was first announced in 2008, has the backing of newspaper and magazine giant Hearst to design a software platform and devices geared specifically toward periodicals. Amazon has tacitly indicated that a periodical-specific device is indeed something it's interested in, too -- the Kindle DX's large size makes it Amazon's go-to e-reader for periodical and textbook reading.
Kindle Threat: Medium. It's taking quite a while for FirstPaper's devices to see the light of day, and the most recent reports suggested they'll be out in 2010 at the earliest. But Hearst already has said that FirstPaper will enable advertising on its software platform -- which has to make it attractive to publishers. Whether the ailing publishing industry will do in Hearst and other publishing giants before FirstPaper or other periodical e-readers get their day in the sun is another matter.