Virgin, Sir Richard Branson's company, is to go into e-publishing, with an iPad-only publication called Maverick. And, if the AdAge report is anything to go by, it sounds like it's going to be a direct competitor to FastCompany.com. So, here's the first review of the app--before it's even out, that's how ahead of the curve we are: It's AWFUL. (Oh, that's just my rich sense of British irony getting in the way of an interesting story, we at FC are magnanimous enough to welcome new kids on the innovation front.)
So, what's not to like about the news? It's called Maverick (although, unlike its namesake, it doesn't fly--and it probably isn't big on Scientology), its "family ambassador" is to be Branson's pulchritudinous daughter Holly (seen here with Dad and bro at a rather embarrassing Virgin product launch last year) who left medical school to join the family firm, and its editor is a former editor of FHM--the U.K. edition--Anthony Noguera.
Ms. Branson's role seems to be to get the right brands involved in the advertising--something that, thinks Stephen Fry's business partner, Andrew Sampson, is key to putting out good content. Virgin is doing it as a joint venture with Seven Squared, and the editorial mix will cover "entrepreneurial endeavors, and highlight new creative business, travel and technology ideas, targeting an upscale international audience." Oh, it's like looking in a mirror!
At the moment, iPad publishing is very hit-and-miss--something that Virgin has correctly identified as "underserved and overpriced." Nothing has yet come close to the medium's early promise--GQ's app was widely slated, and even Wired's is over-priced, not nearly clever or timely enough--and this from a publication that understands the format inside and out.
Until we see a bit of innovation on the publishing app front, however, it looks like iPad users will be stuck with stuff like APOLLO. Billed as the "newspaper of the future," the aim of the app, by Hawthorne Labs, is to develop personalized news in tablet form. (Tech Crunch's Robin Wauters describes it as being similar to both Pulse and Pandora, seeing as it uses an algorithm that trawls through the web gathering up similar articles and presenting them to the user.)
Once you get past the annoying traditional Japanese-mixed-with-scratching soundtrack on the vid, you can see what the app, created by a bunch of former Google and Bing engineers, can do. It costs $4.99, (although it's on special offer at $2.99 until next Monday) and could be as good a way of seeing old media on new technology as you're going to get. Until Holly gets her freak on, that is. And keep your eyes peeled for the FC app, which will be coming to an App store near you soon, fyi.