Quartz, the team behind the Quartz Brief is shutting down the news digest app that presented news stories in a chat format. Quartz launched the app first for iOS in February 2016 following their email newsletter, the Quartz Daily Brief. At that time, news apps crowded the industry and the Quartz Brief app was a good fit for Quartz as it expanded to more platforms – they already had an Apple News channel.
— Lauren Finkelstein (@LTFinkelstein) February 18, 2016
People really loved the app and craved for an Android version.
— Jermaine Charvy (@jcharvy) February 28, 2016
— Sonya Michelle (@badbadbetter) March 4, 2016
— Naoya Makino (@naoyamakino) February 13, 2016
They later launched an Android app in December 2016.
The app came with a new format for presenting news digests. Quartz Brief used a chat format in an aggregated and curated manner for light reading.
Snippets of news articles are delivered via a text message with photos, GIFs and links for those who want to read more. You can reply with the chat blurbs provided. Quartz Brief breaks down what’s going on in the news plus give context. All this goodness is going away.
Long Live Quartz Brief
The Quartz Brief app is shutting down come July 1. Quartz is currently doing some house cleaning and currently giving its main app and website more priority.
The Pivot to Paid
Quartz was acquired by Uzabase, a Japanese media company in July last year. They later launched a new app in November with a NewPicks-look. NewsPicks is a subscription-based news app owned by Uzabase in partnership with Dow Jones -Wall Street Journal’s parent company. Quartz also launched a membership product on the same month which costs $150 a year or $14.99 monthly.
Worth noting is that Adam Passick, head of editorial operations of the app and the newsletters headed to New York Times last month but a spokersperson told Digiday that that had nothing to do with Quartz wrapping up the app.
Love from news nerds wasn’t enough
When the app launched, it got a lot of love from news nerds but didn’t pick up with the larger audience – it got downloaded 1.3 million times across both app stores and averaging 23,000 downloads per month. The app got applauded for being experimental at a time when news organisations were holding off trying out new features and platforms.
Machines (or humans pretending to be machines pretending to be humans) are no good at chatting about the news. First to go was @ResiApp, now it's the turn of Quartz Brief. Wondering what's keeping @novibot afloat. https://t.co/TBt8QNqIjz
— rr (@roboreport) June 21, 2019
The focus will now be on the new Quartz app that currently now has over 500,000 downloads across the Google Play Store and the Apple App Store. Quartz says that the app has sufficient active users as users of the Quartz Brief app.
Always have been a big fan of the Quartz Brief mobile app experience. Sad to see this couragious product experiment to come to an end. https://t.co/9CXKGRuiyQ
— Benjamin Stoll (@benjsto) June 22, 2019
— R☀️N (@ronjpeg) June 25, 2019
If you still want to try it out, get it here.
Sad about this, but as the story says, as admired as the app was, it just wasn’t really used in practice.
Great overview of the state of news chat bots in this story too https://t.co/AIB5tOgBJu
— Mun-Keat Looi (@munkeatlooi) June 25, 2019
What they’re saying
- Some people loved it! Just not hundreds of thousands of people – A former employee.
- As we prioritize some exciting changes ahead for the main Quartz app and Qz.com, the Quartz Brief app will shut down on July 1. The Quartz Brief has represented many of Quartz’s best qualities, with groundbreaking product design and new forms of writing, and the lessons and spirit of the idea will always be at the heart of our product offerings as we grow and evolve. – A Quartz spokesperson to Digiday.
- Maybe “chatting with the news” just isn’t something most people really want to do? – Joshua Benton, Nieman Lab.
Hopefully, as Quartz Brief closes shop, Quartz and other news organisations picked lessons along the way on figuring out new and better ways to reach all their readers and not just their niche audiences and as Alvaro said, in the age of attention all innovation is valid to maintain the interest of the audience.