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Is Richard Branson's Project magazine the future?

December 1, 2010 |  7:52 am

In the race to get an iPad-only subscription-based old-media-style product to consumers, it looks like Richard Branson's Project magazine will beat Rupert Murdoch's upcoming newspaper-like The Daily to screens. It's now in Apple's app store for $2.99.

Wait, there was a race?

The starting gun was heard back in May when Wired Magazine debuted spectacularly on the iPad, selling 24,000 copies in 24 hours for an estimated $120,000 gross. For moguls involved in old media watching their business models erode, that had to serve as a shining beacon on a hill. If we build an app, they will come.

In "an iPad environment, you expect to pay for the good stuff," New York Times media columnist David Carr told NPR Tuesday. That's a shift for the Web, where subscription-based sites often make readers click away.

But is an iPad magazine really that much more exciting than a website, or a hard copy magazine?

On our Technology blog, Nathan Olivarez-Giles provides a preview.

In its premier issue, Project incorporates many of the same slick features seen in iPad versions of Wired and Sports Illustrated -- such as video and audio embedded into the articles, interactive graphics that change images at a touch command and, of course, interactive advertisements.

Links to websites of people, companies and products mentioned in articles are plentiful as well.

One unique feature: The cover of Project's first issue is actually a video that turns into a still image with links to the magazine's articles.

I can't help but wonder if the choice of Jeff Bridges from the new "Tron" for the cover of the first issue is telling. Bridges, while a marvelous actor, is 60 years old; "Tron" is a remake of a movie made in 1982, before many of the new young tech consumers were born. Maybe that's not a big deal -- maybe the iPad demographic slants older.

But I'm looking forward to the magazine-style iPad app that's looking forward.

-- Carolyn Kellogg

Video credit: Project magazine demo - Issue 1 from Project on Vimeo.