RIP The Ottawa Citizen iPad app

As of this week, this

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has been replaced by this

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Another legacy media attempt to attract audiences and advertisers in the digital-first era bit the dust this week. When I opened the iPad app for The Citizen, my local newspaper and the only major daily newspaper in Ottawa, Canada’s national capital, I was confronted by the news that the Citizen’s iPad app was no more. Launched with great hope and only a year ago, the Citizen’s attempt to make itself “appointment reading” has failed.

It was beautiful. It was big. It was interesting. It was doomed.

Perhaps its failure was partially linked to the plateauing in tablet use – in a world of larger smartphones. Maybe its failure was the app’s adoption of a “magazine format” – in a world that is not big on contemplation. But I think the app was doomed from the outset by its 6PM daily publication schedule – in a world in which we consume our news in realtime as it happens.

They didn’t succeed this time. But I hope they have the financial strength and vision to keep innovating.

It’s not news that legacy news outlets – newspapers, magazines, television and radio – continue to struggle to find economic equilibrium in the digital-first world. Every time they lose, we all lose. When we turn first to Facebook in the morning instead of our local newspaper or television newscast, we hand ourselves over to the viral, not necessarily the important.

RIP The Ottawa Citizen iPad app. A bold experiment. A noble failure.

And so that it doesn’t disappear unremarked, here are some screen caps from the last few days of the Citizen’s iPad app.

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  • Bill Doskoch

    From a G&M article on the elimination of the specially produced PM tablet editions:

    “It was a beautiful product we were proud of, certainly, but it just didn’t reach a critical mass of audience or advertisers,” Ms. Gelfand (Phyllis, a Postmedia spokesperson) said in an interview. “And we’re finding that our news app that’s
    constantly updated is a better product, it’s a more desirable product.”

    Joe, I think your points about device-specific delivery and appointment viewing are correct — as are your concerns about the implications of algorithm-delivered news.

    But that’s the world we’re living in now, for better or worse.

  • JimCanuck

    Over the past couple of months we have seen attempts by all three major dailies distributed in the GTA to produce new tablet versions. The Star’s Star Touch simply does not have the content one can find at the Star website (or in the print edition); it’s a beautiful layout and graphics but content is king. The Globe’s has more but still not all. National Post provides an interesting presentation of the full daily paper where we can see all the content. But it’s also a matter of revenue generation. Star Touch relies on ‘limited advertising”; National Post requires a $10 monthly subscription and not sure where G&M is at. It will probably be a year before we see how this all plays out in practice.