NEW YORK: An increasing number of media owners and advertisers are taking an interest in Apple's iPad, despite the fact the new "tablet" has yet to hit the market.

As previously reported, Apple first unveiled the iPad in January this year, arguing that it would effectively bridge the gap between smartphones and laptop computers.

ComScore, the research firm, surveyed 2,176 consumers in the US, and found that 15% were "seriously considering" buying this gadget, with people who owned other Apple-made products showing the greatest interest.

Moreover, 52% of this latter group would be either "willing" or "very willing" to pay for newspaper and magazine subscriptions for publications that had been specifically formatted for e-readers.

Time Inc, the largest magazine company in the US, is hoping to utilise the iPad both to explore new ways of delivering its content, and in an attempt to drive up revenues.

"I believe readers are going to love it. They're going to be willing to pay for it. And advertisers will follow the readers," John Huey, editor-in-chief of Time Warner Inc's magazine operations, said.

"It's going to result in all kinds of new journalism and magazine making, and it's going to be a meaningful addition to our publishing model. How soon? We'll see."

A tailored version of Time magazine will be made available for the device as close as possible to its launch date of April 3, boasting features such as an "interactive map" instead of formal contents pages.

Unilever, the FMCG giant, Toyota, the automaker, and Fidelity, the investment firm, are all thought to have agreed to advertise in the first eight iPad issues of Time, paying around $200,000 (€149k; £134k) to do so.

Mark Ford, president and group publisher of Time Inc., added that the company held talks with 30 brands interested in taking ads in the equivalent edition of Sports Illustrated even before details about the "tablet" were made public.

The lifestyle title will go live on this emerging platform in June, having developed sample marketing formats such as a driving game that allows users to "steer" a car with the iPad.

People, the celebrity-focused publication, will do the same in July, having already sold out the six sponsorship positions on offer for its first three monthly instalments.

Men's Health, owned by Rodale, has also signed an exclusive marketing deal with Gillette, the shaving range owned by Procter & Gamble, which will be the sole brand to feature in its iPad "preview issue".

As part of this tie-up, owners of this appliance will be able to view ten pages of its April and May editions free of charge, although they will have to pay the normal $4.99 cover price to view the full magazine.

With regard to newspapers, which have suffered particularly heavily from the rise of digital media, the New York Times and Wall Street Journal are actively making progress in this area.

Six companies, including Coca-Cola and Federal Express, have already bought up space in the Journal, which will charge readers around $18 for a monthly iPad subscription.

"Some of the things you can do are just mind blowing," Steve Pacheco, director of advertising at FedEx, said.

"You are taking something that used to be flat on a page and making it interactive and have it jump off the page."

Data sourced froM Wall Street Journal; additional content by Warc staff