The new iPad-only (s aapl) publication Project from Virgin (s vmed) and Richard Branson has arrived, and is currently available for download from the app store. Users who download the app get a very limited preview of the international culture, business and travel magazine free, and can then buy the first issue for $2.99.
Project is unique in that it has no print version upon which it’s based. In addition to being digital-only, it’s also specifically designed with the iPad’s unique capabilities in mind. You won’t find the typical scanned pages or static content of most early digital publications here. Instead, subscribers to project get access to “updating content” throughout the month.
Kudos to Project if it does indeed manage to bring worthwhile updates to subscribers during the term of their purchase. One of the main problems with the magazine format in the digital age is that waiting an entire month to see new things is just too slow for many users. Of course, we’ve yet to see what Virgin has in mind in terms of updates. If we see only modest additions made throughout the month, it won’t really prove that much of a differentiator.
Potential rival The Daily (s nwsa), Rupert Murdoch’s iPad-only newspaper publication, is set to launch early in December. While the content of the two publications probably won’t be all that similar, the fact that both will be using the iPad as their sole distribution platform will have the print news and periodical industries watching their progress very closely.
If publishers can get the formula right, the iPad is a market of tremendous potential profit. iPad owners are willing to spend more on apps than their iPhone and iPod touch-owning counterparts, and they also appear to be much more receptive to advertising than most.
In addition to better and more interactive content from publishers, a dedicated means of subscribing to content through iTunes would also go a long way toward attracting and keeping readers.
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