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Virgin’s iPad-exclusive magazine, Project, hits e-shelves tonight

ProjectNews Corp and Apple are rumored to be making a joint announcement on December 9, reportedly concerning the imminent arrival of the iPad only magazine The Daily. Looks like they’ve been beat to the punch by Virgin, which will launch Project, a magazine exclusively available for iPad, tonight.

Initial reports pegged Virgin founder Richard Branson’s Project as a light, browse-worthy, in-flight magazine – a logical conclusion for the Virgin Airways mogul. But a screenshot featuring Jeff Bridges and whole host of articles teasers on the cover seem to convey otherwise. It looks like the publication will be fully featured and have design, entertainment, technology, and entrepreneurs as its main tenants.

The new magazine app is designed similarly to Wired, not a bad move on Virgin’s part, seeing as it’s one of the iPad’s bestselling magazines. And as the launch creeps closer by the minute, Virgin is ingeniously holding a competition to redesign its cover art, driving up consumer interest and awareness. A note to hopeful participants: you’ll have to be in New York, San Francisco, or London and pay attention to Foursquare, Facebook, Twitter, and Gowalla to find the locations of four USB drives with replicas of the cover. The winner will also get to design another issue in the coming year.

While Project will get a first crack at iPad, The Daily may still have a huge leg up on the magazine seeing as it has Apple’s support behind it. Not to mention that its introduction could also debut the premiere of subscriptions in the iTunes store.