Monday, 6 December 2010

Will Branson's Project sink or swim?

Virgin boss Richard Branson launched his latest venture Project, a digital magazine for the iPad, in New York on December 1st and announced to the world it would "sink or swim" in the current turbulent climate.

It is billed as "a revolutionary multimedia magazine built specially for your iPad". You can download the reader app for free at the App Store and then get a full month's worth of content for £1.79.

The iPad-only magazine at first glance is colourful with some great visual and audio effects. For the movie-lovers amongst us it features Jeff Bridges talking about his new film Tron: Legacy.

Debate currently surrounds the magazine's touch-based interface and concerns have been expressed over this as well and whether Apple might bring in subscription options for any other magazines or newspapers in the future on the iPad. So far, reviews in the press have been mixed with some people saying it has left them frustrated,  while others are keen to stress how interactive it is and to praise the effects.

What I like about Project is that it encourages readers and all the bloggers out there to get involved by welcoming their contributions. Key areas in the magazine include: technology, culture, design and science.

Is this the future for magazines and newspapers? The investment of industry heavyweights such as Branson and News Corp's Ruper Murdoch - who is squaring up with his Daily digital publication - suggests that it might be. I've never met Richard Branson but he changed my good friend Lisa's life forever when he introduced her on one of his publicity events to her future husband Mark. They have been happily married for years and now have four beautiful children. Will Branson's latest venture be as fruitful? Only time well tell.

1 comment:

  1. What Project and other ventures of this kind will have to overcome is the public's reluctance to pay even a pittance for online content. Some newspapers such as the Telegraph and the Guardian give their copy away free online, and other magazines give a certain (and increasing) proportion of their copy away for free. But when Murdoch's Times decided to go behind the paywall, its online readership nosedived. Nobody has yet come up with a magic formula to persuade a seriously decent wedge of people reading online to come up with even a tiny amount of money for content. It would take an entrepreneur of at least Branson's calibre to do this ... but as you say, time will tell.