Ride tracking app Strava has moved it's overall segment leaderboards to a subscriber-only feature in a huge shakeup of both the paid and free offering. While the top ten segment times remain free to view, the changes are aimed at 'dedicating Strava to our community' - and we assume reaching the profitability that has so far eluded the company.
The changes now mean that you'll need to cough up the £48 a year subscriber fee in order to view overall segment leaderboards, compare, filter or analyse your segment efforts or use the app for route planning; all features which were previously free. Non-paying Android and web users will also lose their ability to view their training log too.
The shakeup continues for subscribers, with the previous 'Summit' branding of the subscriber version being dropped, a move which comes hot on the heels of the previous multi-tier Summit Packages being dropped in March this year.
It's clear that the changes won't suit all, find out what users are saying over on the road.cc live blog, plus read the social media reactions and replies from Strava.
While the features available to non-paying customers have been severely curtailed, there's a bit of carrot and stick action going on, with Strava now offering a number of new subscriber features. Those include a promised large update to Routes, with planning and recommendations now available to Android and iPhone users looking to explore.
It'll now also be possible to analyse your performances on identical rides over time with Matched Rides, plus Workout Analysis is now available for all activity types. Mobile app users can now look at their Grade-Adjusted Pace and, for those that missed it, you can now crop rides from your phone.
Strava is also somewhat mysteriously promising "a whole new way to compete on segments", which sounds interesting. Many users will also be very pleased to know that chronological listing of activities has returned and it's also possible to have a 'Favourites first' view if you want to Strava-stalk your friends (or frenemies).
It's likely that this pivot to an almost entirely subscriber focused model is due to the failure so far of the company to monetise the service, with the Summit tiers having failed to connect with riders. An attempt to have paid content on the apps with the 'Sponsored Integrations' has also been drawn to a close in this revamp.
Strava's founders Mark Gainey and Michael Horvath said in a statement to app users: "We plan to take what we earn from these changes and reinvest straight back into building more and better features – not devising ways to fill up your feed with ads or sell your personal information. We simply want to make a product so good that you’re happy to pay for it."
It's also very likely that recent data protection legislation across the EU and in the USA had made any chance of making money out of the vast amount of data the app generates while cutting the expensive and complex to maintain free leaderboards will save cash. They do say that they are committed to always offering a free service, however.
As the brand points out, a subscription costs roughly the same as a couple of energy bars a month, but will the new changes be enough to make you subscribe? Or will you be trying to find an alternative? Let us know in the comments at the bottom of the page.
The updates in full
New features for subscribers
A big Routes update, with planning & recommendations on iOS and Android
Matched Rides: Analyze performance on identical rides over time
See your full workout history with Training Log on iOS
Workout Analysis is now available for all activity types
Grade-Adjusted Pace (GAP) now on iOS and Android
Coming soon: A whole new way to compete on segments
New subscription features that were previously free
Overall segment leaderboards (Top 10 view is still free)
Comparing, filtering and analyzing segment efforts
Route planning on strava.com, with a huge redesign launching soon!
Routes is designed to help you unlock that knowledge and make exploring easy
Matched Runs: Analyze performance on identical runs over time
Training Log on Android and strava.com
Monthly activity trends and comparisons
Recent releases for all athletes
“Favorites first” feed settings and the return of the chronological feed
Improved impossible effort detection… False KOMs, QOMs, CRs dethroned!
Apple Watch uploading and improved sync to Apple Health
Recorded the drive home by accident? New mobile activity cropping
All activities now show both elapsed and moving time
New or improved analysis of power, cadence and swimming stroke rate
Strava activity cropping in app
Statement from founder's Mark Gainey and Michael Horvath
"If nothing else, 2020 has been a year of regaining perspective. A silver lining of hard times like these is that they inspire introspection and focus – What matters the most to us? And how do we live up to that?
Our answers to those questions have only gotten clearer in the past few months, and we’re now leading the company with a single purpose: rededicating Strava to our community. Strava athletes deserve an affordable and constantly improving experience, and we hope you’ve noticed how focused we’ve been this year on delivering that. Our small but mighty team of 180 has released 51 athlete-facing improvements already in 2020, from Apple Watch syncing, to new maps and metrics for snowsports, to a huge update to our Routes features, and a lot more. We’ve also removed some distractions, such as Sponsored Integrations (the closest we’ve ever come to putting ads in the feed). And we returned the option to sort your feed in chronological order. We heard how much that change drove you nuts, and admit it took a really long time to respond.
Dedicating Strava to the community is also a commitment to longevity. We are not yet a profitable company and need to become one in order to serve you better. And we have to go about it the right way – honest, transparent and respectful to our athletes.
This means that, starting today, a few of our free features that are especially complex and expensive to maintain, like segment leaderboards, will become subscription features. And from now on, more of our new feature development will be for subscribers – we’ll invest the most in the athletes who have invested in us. We’ve also made subscription more straightforward by removing packs and the brand of Summit. You can now use Strava for free or subscribe, simple.
This focus on subscription ensures that Strava can serve athletes decades from now, and in an up-front way that honors the support of the athletes we serve today. We plan to take what we earn from these changes and reinvest straight back into building more and better features – not devising ways to fill up your feed with ads or sell your personal information. We simply want to make a product so good that you’re happy to pay for it.
"A monthly subscription costs as much as a couple energy bars, and we think that’s money well spent. But we also know, especially lately, that there are athletes struggling to make ends meet and that the free version of Strava must remain high quality and useful. Rest assured that we will always offer a version of Strava for free, and you belong in this community whether you subscribe or not. We’re betting all our chips on you, either way. We hope you’ll bet on us."
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