download.jpegSir Richard Branson has launched a magazine called Project for the iPad. It probably won’t be a success if it continues on the present path. According to Paid Content the $2.99 magazine took 14 minutes to download over WiFi and was tricky to navigate. Anything that takes that long to download defeats the very purpose of a machine like the iPad. More details in this Paid Content article which says: As an iPad app, however, it devotes a full-page schematic to explaining “How to use Project”. That’s something which should be so intuitive as to be almost unnecessary, but Project‘s guide is as confusing as a joypad button map in a first-person console shooter…

The first Paid Content article discusses something that looks, to me, much more promising. The social media app Flipboard is an aggregator of Facebook and Twitter and presents it all in a beautiful package. It was very well received. The company has now moved beyond the social space and is offering a magazine-like service that will be ad based.

That format comes from a series of HTML5 templates the start up calls Flipboard Pages, designed to show content off in a way that varies from the usual browser replica. I haven’t been able to try it yet but based on the example, it adds a magazine look. Flipboard says it will offer the full-page, paginated reading option to “any content creator” sometime in the future. Each publication has its own framework and the pageviews should still count for the publisher.

The advertising component is through a partnership with OM centered on high-impact brand advertising with a magazine feel. The clients participating in that trial include major brands (Pepsi, Gatorade, Infiniti, Levi’s, Dockers, Hilton Worldwide, GE); media (The CW Television Network and Showtime); nonprofit/charities (Project (RED), and Charity Water); and even the Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau. OMD hopes the magazine metaphor and styling will translate into dollars.

Gigaom has a further description:

For instance, a small publisher such as GigaOM could sign-up for this service and create magazine-style subsections and cover page, pick and choose fonts and other such visual elements, and create a unique enough experience. Flipboard could submit the final app to the App store, but the marketing of the app is left to the publisher. Similarly, the company can quickly add support for other tablet devices such as Android-based tablets or Palm’s WebOS based tablets, if they ever come to market.

Given that it costs tens of thousands of dollars to build an iPad app, for small publishers such as us, paying, say, $10,000 a year seems like a bargain. Now here is the best part: the apps would carry the code for Flipboard to serve ads-from either its ad-network or on behalf of publishers for a fee. As it signs-up high-quality niche publishers, the company starts to develop big enough reach for its ad-network.

Experimentation is wonderful!


  1. As far as the 2nd Paid Content article on “Project” goes:
    Mind numbing incompetence by someone (Robert Andrews ) who describes himself as “I am a journalist and online publisher, writing about technology and digital media since 1995.” And to have the gall to blame Apple for his inability to maintain and understand the operation of his iTunes and Apple computer shows a highly questionable level of judgement.
    I didn’t bother reading any further because I have no confidence that this writer is capable of any kind of subjective analysis of the product or UI.

  2. My download of ‘Project’ took just a few minutes, similar to downloading Wired and other big magazines. The navigation can indeed use some extra finetuning but overall this is a very promising start. ‘Project’ succeeds in showing how appealing a magazine can be if it is designed from scratch for a tablet.

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