Richard Branson unveils Jeff Bridges, cars, and fiddly things for Ipad

The 'cover' of 'Project'? ()
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Virgin Group emperor Sir Richard Branson debuts his Ipad-exclusive magazine tomorrow. What will it look like?

Well for starters, the "cover" (or is this called a homepage? or homescreen?) is about Jeff Bridges' coming Tron. ("BACK IN THE GAME: JEFF BRIDGES REBOOTS TRON" is the main coverline; Bridges faces forward in black tie on a black background.) It's … a video!

Looking at an image of the cover that appears on a blog sister to the Ipad app, other coverlines appear to be about "Jaguar's 250 m.p.h. hypercar," "Why the world's coolest record label is French," and "The Superchef who Serves Soil."

If it sounds like a slightly more upscale version of Maxim or FHM, or a competitor to GQ, it's no mistake. But it's Rupert Murdoch's daily Ipad newspaper, The Daily, at which an opening post on the Project website takes aim.

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In a post introducing the product, Chris Bell, who is guiding the project along with fellow Bauer Media (think: FHM magazine) Anthony Noguera, takes a few swings:

As Project went on sale, reports emerged that Rupert Murdoch will soon launch an iPad-only newspaper called The Daily, after it came to him in a dream or something. Which, like all Murdoch products, shall doubtless enrich humankind with its impartial political analysis and rolling coverage of shit exploding. Also: hi-def nudity, fingers crossed. But the point stands: the irascible Aussie despot doesn’t throw his corked hat into the cyber ring until he’s sure of a market. Apart from the Times paywall, maybe. And MySpace. But, well, you know.

The Cutline reported earlier today that the app was also running as a blog at www.projectmag.com.

While the homepage now just says "Coming Soon," it turns out that the other pages of the website can still be directly accessed. So how much of a clue is this website, which seems to be titled the Project Blog, to the sensibility of the Ipad app?

It's full of Bauer alums: while Noguera is at the helm with Branson's daughter Holly on the business side, Bell is writing on the website. So is Josh Woodfin, another FHM name. There's also a video game review written by Gavin Brett, who is listed elsewhere as the sales director at Zoo, another Bauer title.

But aside from the Bauer DNA and the Branson name, Britain's Seven Publishing Group, Ltd. is also heavily involved. According to the Terms of Use page on Project's website, Seven Publishing Headquarters, in London, is the main contact for questions and comments on the site. Seven specializes in customer publishing, magazines designed for the customers of specific brands. (Seven puts out a magazine for the customers of Sainsbury's, the British supermarket chain) though the same page identifies all important intellectual property rights as belonging to "Virgin Digital Publishing Limited and Virgin Enterprises Limited respectively."

We don't see any ads on the website, which certainly doesn't mean there won't be any sponsorship on the app that hits the Apple Store tonight; AdAge said, back when the magazine was still being called Maverick, that the title was scheduled for October release but wouldn't move ahead without signing up a few brand sponsors.

It remains to be seen what relationship the website and the app might have. But the site is divided into verticals covering Culture, Tech, Design, Fashion and Science. Posts include one about "achingly beautiful movie posters," Sarah Palin's North Korea slip, a tribute to Freeman's, and a review of Gran Torino.*

Bell says that putting together an Ipad magazine is not at all like Minority Report, but more "like making a normal paper magazine, but about 1,000 times more fiddly."

We'll see how fiddly tomorrow, when Branson unveils the thing at the Crosby Street Hotel; we'll have more then.

 

* The editor inserted the line, "That's a car!" here in an earlier version. Of course, it is a video game. Editor apologizes.