Over the years, Sir Richard Branson has made a habit of bringing unconventional wisdom to very conventional industries -- from music to airlines to space travel. Now he's applying that same game-changing approach to the publishing world, with the launch of Project, the world's first digital magazine of its kind designed exclusively for Apple's iPad.
Branson, the founder and chairman of Virgin Group and a member of the AOL Small Business Board of Directors, officially introduced Project at New York's Crosby Street Hotel on Tuesday. The monthly magazine, which incorporates an almost three-dimensional mix of audio clips, video, photos and text as readers flip each "page," will focus on four main editorial pillars -- design, entertainment, technology and entrepreneurs. The launch issue features Academy Award winner Jeff Bridges on the cover.
"By putting it in on a iPad, you can really bring a magazine alive," Branson said in an interview with AOL Small Business. "Instead of just reading a story about Jeff Bridges, you can interact with Jeff Bridges and experience Jeff Bridges. It's just something that magazines have never been able to do before. Because it's designed for the iPad, it's got lots of bells and whistles that magazines have never had in the past."
In a sense, Project brings Branson full circle. At 16, he launched his first business venture -- a magazine called Student. It's also something of a family affair. Branson's daughter Holly, Virgin's special projects manager, is also involved in the iPad initiative.
The team behind Project, which was created in partnership with Seven Squared and will be overseen by editor Anthony Noguera, hopes that similarly interactive ads will entice both readers and advertisers. The magazine is priced at $2.99 per issue, available as a download through Apple's App Store, and will update over the course of each month.
Project could help usher in a new wave of iPad-only publications that some media watchers see as the future of the industry. News Corp.'s Rupert Murdoch is hard at work with an iPad newspaper called The Daily, which has drawn comparisons to Project, despite a different editorial focus.
As usual, Project is not Branson's only project in the works -- on Wednesday, the billionaire entrepreneur visits Texas, for the launch of Virgin America's service to Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport.
Check out our full interview with Sir Richard Branson, including his take on entrepreneurship, work-life balance, space exploration and what to expect in 2011:
The original version of this article appeared on AOL Small Business on 11/30/10.
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