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First look at Richard Branson’s Project mag for iPad

Today sees the launch of Project, a new magazine designed exclusively for iPad. It’s the work of Virgin Digital Publishing, backed by Richard Branson and edited by former FHM boss Anthony Noguera.

I’ve been playing with the first issue this morning. ‘Playing’ is the right word, too, as there’s lots of interactivity and multimedia within the mag, which editorially feels like one of the more highbrow men’s mags spliced with Wired.

The latter comparison is unavoidable for Project, since it’s clearly heavily inspired by Wired’s iPad app: you’ll see how in the video we show below.

Video is high in the mix: the cover is actually a short video of main interviewee Jeff Bridges, as is the first page of the interview itself, which sees him stroll onto the screen, then stroll off again as the headline appears.

There’s also audio clips from his interview, while other pieces make use of embedded videos and interactive boxouts, where you tap on numbers one through five to bring up different elements – again, very Wired-on-iPad.

Ads get interactivity too, albeit sometimes a bit clunkily, with one that chucks you out to a YouTube page to view videos, before bringing you back to the mag-app.

Project has its roots firmly in print magazine design, give or take the video flourishes. It would be interesting to see the mag push things forward a bit more in upcoming issues – with no legacy print edition driving the design, there’s room to experiment more with structure. That said, it’s clear the Project team were keen to keep some familiar reference points for people expecting something magazine-y.

It’s interesting, anyway, and like all magazines will develop more of an identity over subsequent issues. The content will be all-important, of course: securing big-name interviewees with plenty to say, and choosing topics that make the most of the multimedia features.

The first issue costs £1.79 via in-app payment – the main mag app is free. This may well be an introductory price, given the costs of producing the mag and its video content, and the fact that Apple takes 30% of that price. The issue downloaded in less than 10 minutes over my home Wi-Fi connection, which compares well to Wired’s bloatier iPad issues.

Lots of people will download the first issue of Project out of curiosity. From what I’ve seen so far, there’s enough good stuff in there to make the second issue worth a punt too.



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