Project’s 4th full issue is now available for download, for free, as an in app download. Apparently American Express managed to subsidize the cost of the magazine for an entire month. We’re not sure if they’re planning on continuing the “sponsored by corporation” approach with future editions, but this month’s issue is completely free.

It’s a curious move. Project, as well as The Daily and other iPad publications were meant to solve the digital publishing problem, but it seems like they’re all having a difficult time gaining traction on the iPad. The Daily shipped for free, then extended its free period, whereas Project released an issue for free, then charged for a couple of issues, and now it’s free again. They’re different approaches, but both ended up with the same results—they’re still struggling to get their apps into paying customers’ hands.

So, what’s the major reason these digital magazines are having a hard time turning a profit? Has the “professional” journalism world rested on their laurals for too long, while bloggers managed to outperform and sometimes even outscore them financially when it comes to digital distributions?

For me, it’s less about the digital model, and more about the content these publishers are serving up. If there’s one way that blogs have beat down major publishers it’s that niche news content is available, en masse. Take Apple blogs as a prime case in point. If you’re interested in Apple, you won’t get the same kind of coverage from a Project or Daily application.

Personally, I don’t care about Eric Bana, pop culture news, or the latest Lady Gaga meat dress, and I’m pretty sure most of the early iPad adopters don’t either. The first major magazines that caught my attention were Wired, The New Yorker, and this week’s SPIN Play application. The first two have fallen off my radar in recent months, but that has more to do with the lack of subscription models until recently than anything else. But, in all cases, these magazines provide detailed information on topics that pique my interests. It’s starting to look like the time of broad news publications is over, and the dominance of in depth, niche specific publications has begun, again.

I’d rather get my information on Libya, Iraq, and Egypt from someone who covers the news extensively, than someone who happens to cover the events from time to time. It’s called niche reporting, and it’s here to stay.

Article Via The Project Magazine Blog

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