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If you are a Strava user you will have received in the last few hours an email with this title: "Important news about Strava". An email to announce you important changes for those who are not paying users of the platform, cutting back quite significantly on what you can and can't get from Strava from now on.
First I'm going to tell you what changes and how it affects you, and then I'll tell you why it's a shot in the foot.
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The following functions are affected:
- Leaderboards in segments. Now non-paying users will only see the top 10. This is in addition to the cuts already made in the past by eliminating the tables by weight, age, etc. for free users.
- Route planner
- Matching runs (if you have done the same route before, it tells you if you have been faster or slower)
Segment position tables
Currently this is how we would see a leaderboard in segments, both for those with a free and paid account.
In it I can see the different details in that particular segment, with my position, time, etc. This is the quick view, if I go to zoom in on all the details then 1TP10I would see how I would rank with respect to my age group, my weight group, people I follow, groups I participate in, etc.
All these possibilities will disappear for all non-paying members, leaving you only the data of the top 10 and your position in the table, but without knowing who is between 11 and your position or how your performance is compared to those of your club or your friends.
Strava route editor
Along with the announced changes comes a new route editor. In my case it is not visible yet, I'm still accessing the old one both in my normal account (with premium subscription) and in the one I have to test things (which is free), so I can not put screenshots of what are the changes.
There are small changes in the interface, but the main difference is that now podemos choose the type of surface on which to perform the route: paved, dirt or that we give us the same. Basically the same thing that was implemented in the mobile application a few weeks ago.
I suppose that as soon as my panel is updated with the new features included for my paid account, the possibility of creating routes in my free account will disappear.
However, I understand that the ability to create a route from someone else's activity will still be available to users of the free version, they just won't have access to poder to create a new route. Had you been happy with the inclusion of the automatic synchronization of Strava routes to Garmin from last week? Well, that's a cold shower for you.
Another feature that is missing is the comparison of matching runs when running the same route. This appears when you run a route and then repeat it again, Strava tells you if you have been faster or slower each time.
It's a minor thing, as you usually know if you've gone faster or slower. But it is another possibility that will no longer be present in your free version of Strava.
Finally, external developers who make use of the API will also not have access to segment data. And they lose such access overnight, without most of them having had prior notification.
Why these changes mean Strava is shooting itself in the foot
I totally understand that Strava needs to make money, because they are still a company and every company must generate profits. Especially technology companies that have received funding from venture capitalists who only understand profits. And naturally, the patience of those investors (and their pockets) is limited.
However I don't think that cutting features to users is the best way to get them to stop being free users and become paying users. Mainly because instead of encouraging you to become a paying user, what they are doing is making you angry.
I repeat, it is totally legitimate for Strava to want to make a profit, everyone wants to do it. But it should do it in a smart way. What would be that way to incentivize free users to switch to the paid version? By offering "cool" new stuff. Something that entices you to pay to use it, that gives you a plus.
I can think of many possibilities: Organize group rides that are published on Strava as a route, which you can join. Create a specific competition for clubs and poder perform it in a certain period of time and go seeing classifications, without having to run all together. From the Beacon function you can have real-time information on where your friends are training, in case they are nearby and there is a possibility to join them. Or a selection of interesting routes for a specific club...
These are things that are not present on Strava at the moment and have come out of my head in a matter of two minutes. With the nearly 200 developers they have on the payroll it shouldn't be too complicated to get it done.
The problem with this decision is that it not only affects users of the free version, but also those who pay the subscription. Imagine that you are paying for your subscription, so you have access to all your segment data, etc. But your friends don't, so they will simply see that neither you nor they are in the top 10. You may still have the incentive to compete against them in a segment and take away the best record in your group, but if they don't see it... they won't compete.
So, if in a group 20% is paying and the rest are not, the range of users who are going to participate in that personal "competition" is going to be drastically reduced. That remaining 20%, if their primary use of Strava is segments... will they still pay? Well, maybe not, and instead of expanding the paying user base, they will end up reducing it....
All in all, that's my opinion. Maybe I'm wrong and Strava is right. Time will tell who is right.
And with that... thanks for reading!