PROJECT Magazine now 99c per issue on iPad, possible reasons behind price drop

At $2.99/issue, Richard Branson’s PROJECT was one of the best value-for-money magazines on the iPad App Store, complaints about its interface design and download speeds notwithstanding; the editorial direction covering technology, culture, personalities, media and advertising, all with a distinctly British irreverence and humor, was refreshing and different. Now at $0.99/issue, it’s practically irresistible.

I think they’ve lowered the price as a response to iTunes’ new subscription billing plans. When you can get seven issues of The Daily’s questionable but effort-laden multimedia content for just $0.99/week, paying more for “less” becomes harder. They probably wanted to offer an annual subscription at Wired/PopSci* print prices (between $10 and $15 a year), but that would lock them down to the commitment of a new issue out each month. So far, they’ve delivered three issues in four months, so some kinks or uncertainties must still be working themselves out. iTunes subscriptions work on the basis of timed periods, such as monthly and bi-monthly. I don’t think there’s a way to bill someone for 12 parcels of content delivered irregularly.

The other theory is the more depressing one: namely, sales have been poor and this is a desperate move to convert low demand into business-sustaining high sales volume. Without the benefit of marketing, it seems, because I haven’t found mention of the price drop anywhere else. News Corp’s The Daily got a lot of attention for being a brand new purely digital publication with high production values, but PROJECT was really there first, and actually delivers content that interests someone like me (who The Daily doesn’t).

*Popular Science has a subscription offer in place for their iPad app, but Wired and all the other Conde Nast publications seem to be rejecting Apple’s 30% terms and holding out. It’s their loss. I won’t be buying ephemeral digital issues at four times the cost of a print subscription, even if they are cheaper than what was previously available to us internationally. It’s a matter of principle now.

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