Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, Strava announced some rather huge changes to their business model. Basically, they’re leaning more towards leveraging subscriptions than ever before. Their prior Summit subscriptions have been dropped in favor of a single subscription model. Plus, features that were free are now being paywalled and available only to subscribers.
The end result of all this is that, while you can continue using Strava for free, many features will require a subscription now. You’ll have to pony up either $8/mo or $60/yr (which adds up to $5/mo).
Along with their announcement of What’s New, the founders wrote a letter to the Strava community entitled “We’re betting on our athletes”.
Lots of different cycling related sites have written about this so, rather than repeating it all, here’s a few that you can read:
- Strava shake-up: major changes for paid and free users
- Strava moves Segment Leaderboards, Route Builder to subscription
- Strava leaderboards and routes no longer free | Subscription model the future for fitness platform
- Strava simplifies subscriptions, moves features like segment leaderboards behind paywall
Just reading the titles alone, you can tell this is a rather big move on Strava’s part. Opinions are all over the place with some praise and some bafflement over certain decisions made.
For instance, criticism over how a move towards subscriptions might effect the value of their data:
True but why do we always expect companies like Strava to sell the data they collect? Why not just build a better app that users actually want to use? Seems Strava has built a reputation around the data they collect to the point where people forget there’s an actual app wrapped around it.
Problem is, the changes also effect the access of their API, which in turn effects 3rd party apps:
Yeah, I have to admit this is a real dick move on Strava’s part. Even platforms like Instagram announce changes to their API months in advance. Not sure why Strava did this.
Then there’s the other side, with criticism over Strava users who have gotten too used to having a free lunch:
People have gotten so used to most of Strava being free that they kind of take it for granted. Seems to me that any decision made by Strava that would lead to more profitability was liable to piss someone off. Just can’t make everyone happy 100% of the time.
After reading the letter from the founders of Strava, I think it was this part that struck a cord for me:
It would seem that the founders are aware that to focus on features that Strava users really want, they have to stop being so granular about what’s free and what’s not. Designing and building an app like Strava is hard work. I’m sure the constant battle of picking and choosing how features get integrated in and chosen in terms of functionality between paid and non-paid users is super frustrating. So, rather than having the choose so much, the founders simply decided to make it easier.
To do that, they have to put more emphasis on subscriptions. That allows them to do things like nix the whole Sponsored Integrations crap (which even Strava says is “the closest we’ve ever come to putting ads in the feed”) and just stick to building stuff for subscribers rather than constantly trying to build value for both users and sponsors. That kind of tug-o-war isn’t good for Strava users at all.
Personally, I’ve been paying Strava $3/mo for a while now, focusing on just one of their previous Summit plans. But, now, I’m being forced to pay more. Am I upset about this? Well, yes and no. On one hand, it sucks to have to pay more for things I might not even use. On the other hand, the features that are added now and in the future are far more likely to add more value. I have no problems paying Strava more if it means they’ll be using that money to build a better platform. Ball is in their court now...let’s see if they deliver.
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