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

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.