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Toronto Star Touch Tablet App to Shut Down August 1, $20 Million Experiment Fails

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After launching in the fall of 2015, the Toronto Star Touch tablet app was hailed as the next digital publication success, based on the same model as Quebec’s La Presse+. But now the experiment is officially over, as yesterday, parent company Torstar announced Star Touch will end as of August 1, 2017.

John Boynton, president and CEO of Torstar, said in release “we were surprised by the low numbers of readers who downloaded the tablet app and used it on a daily basis. Readers told us that many of the features they enjoyed were missing on Toronto Star Touch.”

Based on this “feedback”, a new universal app for iPhone and iPad will launch to replace Toronto Star Touch, with the latter set to publish its last edition on July 31.

The universal app appears to be the current Toronto Star iPhone app, but will later add iPad support at the end of next month. An update last month added push alerts, better navigation, more content and easier ways to share stories on social media.

Boynton went on to say for readers who enjoyed the daily edition of Star Touch, “we will be announcing a great offer soon for people who prefer to read the Toronto Star on our replica edition.”

Signs of Star Touch struggling were seen last fall, when 26 employees from the digital publication were laid off; the publication had only 55,000-60,000 weekly readers in July 2016, well below its goal of 200,000.

Torstar invested over $20 million into Star Touch, which will also see 30 employees laid off. Many took to Twitter yesterday to share their thoughts on the end of the app:

Anyone sad to see Star Touch go? What went wrong with this experiment? Maybe they should have made the daily editions available for iPhone users too, to reach a wider audience, instead of just tablet users.

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  • Corey Beazer

    prefer using google news

  • Google News is pretty good. I like it as well.

  • Harold Mitchell

    It’s the Toronto Star’s editorial bias which has turned potential users away…not the technology.

  • dannymalt

    Firstly the interface was pretty sleek and nice, which is why I tried it out. They can definitely be proud about that. But I only used it a few times and went back to my regular places for news. Reasons it failed:
    1) I read my news by following 20 or so different websites (i use RSS feed reader Digg Reader), also Reddit, and the NYTimes, Toronto Star alone is not enough for me, and is not among my top choices for news.
    2) I read most news on my computer desktop or iphone, not iPad. Their whole thing was just based on iPad only, big mistake, you are missing out on most the market. I carry my phone with me everywhere all day, I look at my iPad only at the end of the day after work maybe.
    3) The news in the app does not get updated throughout the day with breaking stories. It’s just like the paper newspaper, where it only has a daily edition in the morning.

  • bbousquet

    I believe the Toronto Star’s solution was based on the technology developed for La Presse+. I don’t use it personally but it seems to be doing quite well for the Montreal “paper”.

  • Mr Dog

    They needed to focus on the iPhone app. ????

  • MleB1

    Impressive looking, but too fiddly. ‘Virtually’, I prefer reading the news on the BBC News App or, multiple sources, via an app like Google Newsstand or Feedly. Plus, of course, all of these apps consume user’s data / bandwidth, if not on wi-fi – so the more complicated, the less attractive, especially when travelling.
    But also old school enough that I still prefer to read anything over a snippet in a ‘real’ paper.

  • IBoy

    The really sad part is 50+ people lost their jobs. While the VP responsible for this ill-conceived idea either a) got a promotion or b) forced out with a nice golden parachute.

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