September 3, 2014 Last Updated 10:27 am

The Verge launches new responsive website, while saying ‘good-bye’ to its apps

“Apps are great, but The Verge is a website, and we want people to have the best experience with our content where it is created and designed to be viewed. Which is on the web. Because we’re a website,” the editor tells readers

The Verge yesterday launched a new responsive website, designed to work mobile devices and tablets, as well as on PCs. The move will mean the end of its apps, the site said.

Verge-devices“As of this morning, our website is 100 percent responsive,” Nilay Patel wrote on the note to readers. “There’s no more mobile site, no tablet site, no desktop site — there’s just one Verge for everything.”

Patel, who left The Verge earlier this year to work at sister website Vox, returned to become the new editor-in-chief following the departure of Joshua Topolsky to Bloomberg.

The new website will apparently mean the end of the website’s apps.

“This also means that our dedicated apps and API for third-party apps will be going away,” Patel wrote. “Apps are great, but The Verge is a website, and we want people to have the best experience with our content where it is created and designed to be viewed. Which is on the web. Because we’re a website.”

It is interesting how some tech people talk about the web in just the same terms those at newspapers spoke of print, confusing the brand with the publishing platform.

That doesn’t mean I don’t applaud the new website and the end to their apps. Apps that are created as a substitute for a workable website are a waste of time (something newspapers are struggling to understand).

TNM, which launched an iPhone app in 2010, pulled that app after about a year and a half after it became obvious that a responsive website would be a better alternative.

But if The Verge is a website, and only a website, then they are playing with fire and making the same mistake many print publishers made in the late ’90s. They are visualizing apps as merely another distribution channel rather than another publishing platform. Pulling an app that mimics the website make sense, abandoning all app development is silly. An app for The Verge that concentrates on its reviews, for instance, would be terribly helpful for readers (like those wine review apps, they are only used occasionally, but are much needed inside the store).

The other problem with abandoning apps is that it sets up the same situation that led to The Verge (and Vox.com, Politico, First Look Media, etc.) in the first place: room for growth. By defining oneself so narrowly that one can not see new opportunities on other platforms, a publisher may find retaining talent to be difficult. Vox Media publishes some wonderful websites like SB Nation, Vox.com, and others, but it does appear to be as conservative as those media properties it seems to think it is outsmarting.

As for the new website… well, hope you like boxes. This kind of design appears to be all the rage – I’m not fond of it, but realize that others seem to like the look.

(Also, the nice Verizon ad that appears at the top of the website as seen on a PC doesn’t really work on an iPad, as you can see above.)

  • Nate 3 years ago

    ” An app for The Verge that concentrates on its reviews, for instance, would be terribly helpful for readers”

    I think Google in a web browser would prove more useful than the app for a single news site like The Verge, The latter won’t be able to bring up as many reviews as the former.

    Now, if we were talking about an app for a strictly review site, that is another matter.

    • D.B. Hebbard 3 years ago

      I understand what you are saying, but still disagree.

      Review apps are generally organized in completely different ways than the content online. No one wants to have to search through a bunch of Google search results when a simple app that is built like a database is better.

      Here is an example: you would have to browse through hundreds of search results to find reviews of wines from a particular region, but a wine review app organizes them all for you in one place. Not surprisingly, The Wine Spectator, which does not have a digital edition for its magazine, does have a very popular wine review app.

      The bottom line is that the app has to be different enough from what the website (or print magazine) offers to make it worth while. But an app that organized all the smartphone, digital camera, tablet reviews into one app might make some sense.