The Mario Blog
Tablets are nice, but those smartphones dominate

As more readers of all ages get their information on the phone, tablets take a back seat. For The Toronto Star, its Star Touch app will cease to be by the end of July.

It is not as if tablets are likely to disappear any time soon.

But each day we get another kernel of evidence about the importance of those smartphones, the rise of mobile and how more people are consuming information on those small screens.

This week, The Toronto Star, Canada’s largest circulation newspaper took the bold step of shutting down its much publicized Star Touch app, designed specifically for tablets, and which the company thought would be a way to lure those elusive young readers.

Well, those young readers are attached to their smartphones, consuming most of their news and information on them, and barely separating themselves from the phones every moment that they are awake.

The Star Touch app was created in 2015, using the technology of La Presse+, the Montreal-based media firm, which publishes entirely on the tablet, and for which a tablet edition has been a most successful venture.  The app included videos, photo galleries, and kept the finger of users happy, with tons of visuals and good engagement.


It is sad that this well done tablet app disappears, especially since Toronto Star execs had pinned such high hopes on it. Here is what John Cruickshank, the newspaper’s publisher, said in 2015:

“It’s the biggest change in storytelling in a century. The newsroom is producing for the tablet, and everything else will fall out of that. And that’s huge.”

The other sad news and a direct result of the app’s demise:   The Toronto Star is laying off 30 employees as it shutters its Star Touch tablet app.

Star sources say that the tablet-only app will be replaced by one for smartphones as well as tablets. A so-called universal app will be available to readers before the end of July, while the Star Touch’s latest edition will run on July 31.

I believe many of the visual storytelling components and innovations that made Star Touch unique can be utilized when writing/designing for the smaller screen of smartphones.

What went wrong?

Apparently, Star Touch was an editorial success with a loyal audience — but one that was too small.  Not enough of those young (or old) readers were reading on the tablet.

As I always mention in all my workshops, there are three verbs to conjugate in newsrooms these days: shift, change, disrupt.

The Toronto Star has shown that it follows these patterns, and now will have to shift its strategy, hopefully using some of the disruptive ideas that made the Star Touch app popular with its loyal, albeit small, audience.  As more media houses create hierarchies for the media quintet, it is for sure that smartphones are the lead voice!


Of related interest

TheMarioBlog post # 2661

Blog Post09.26.2017—1am
Three things that caught our eye
Blog Post09.25.2017—1am
Paywalls & newspapers: from leaky to hard ones, and in between
Blog Post09.22.2017—4am
Mexican earthquake: front pages tell the story
Blog Post09.21.2017—1am
Saying adios to The Village Voice in print
Blog Post09.20.2017—1am
Vogue in print: “point of view, attitude”
Blog Post09.19.2017—1am
The Boston Scene
Blog Post09.18.2017—1am
Thoughts on print: still here, still full of surprises, worthy of attention
Blog Post09.15.2017—1am
New report: For publishers, Facebook is no revenue panacea
Blog Post09.14.2017—1am
Smartphones and web traffic: where the action is
Blog Post09.13.2017—1am
Paris Match: a good visit and big plans
Blog Post09.12.2017—1am
Irma: the morning after
Blog Post09.11.2017—3am
Irma: the bad girl on every front page
Blog Post09.08.2017—1am
Type Magazine: the new Roger Black project
Blog Post09.06.2017—1am
Linear storytelling for mobile: a good example
Blog Post09.05.2017—1am
For Le Journal de Montreal: article page acts like home page, sort of
Blog Post09.01.2017—1am
Facebook the new front page?
Blog Post08.31.2017—1am
When it comes to news, “designer labels” can make the difference
Blog Post08.30.2017—1am
Those fabulous print glossy ads
Blog Post08.29.2017—1am
From here and there: what the email basket brings
Blog Post08.28.2017—1am
Why I would show this Times Mag cover to my class
Blog Post08.24.2017—1am
A caricature for the ages
Blog Post08.23.2017—1am
It was the day Americans looked up!
Blog Post08.22.2017—1am
It was all about the solar eclipse of the century
Blog Post08.21.2017—1am
A day without local news? In Minnesota, readers experience it
Blog Post08.18.2017—1am
The good news about print (in the USA)
Blog Post08.17.2017—1am
What’s your lead story right this minute?
Blog Post08.16.2017—1am
Panama’s La Prensa: workshop digital media, day 2
Blog Post08.15.2017—1am
Panama’s La Prensa: digital workshop
Blog Post08.14.2017—1am
Millennials still like their Facebook
Blog Post08.11.2017—1am
All about the Eclipse: the Times nailed it.
Blog Post08.10.2017—1am
It’s the Monocle printed newspaper again
Blog Post08.09.2017—1am
Who pays for news, and who believes the news? Report tells us
Blog Post08.08.2017—1am
Workshops: linear visual storytelling
Blog Post08.07.2017—1am
For newspaper print editions: the power of the headline
Blog Post08.04.2017—1am
Behold the iPad: it’s still part of the media quintet
Blog Post08.03.2017—1am
At the NYTimes: push for customized content moves forward
Blog Post08.02.2017—1am
The Mooch’s quick departure on the front pages
Blog Post08.01.2017—1am
At The New York Times: aggressively pushing digital subscriptions
Blog Post07.31.2017—1am
Thoughts while on vacation
Blog Post07.14.2017—1am
Local newspapers, new digital strategies that work
Contact us with speaking requests, questions or to discuss a project.