Strava has been making some major changes to the often polarizing app this year, but the most recent changes are causing a stir.
On Monday, Strava announced that they would be removing access to segment leaderboards, except for the top ten in a segment, to free users.
“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.”
Strava says that these changes are necessary to ensure the company’s longevity, and to recognize paying members who have been supporting them.
There are more features that were free and have now been moved to subscribers only. As mentioned above, the top ten segment leaderboard view will still be free, but overall segment leaderboards are now for paying members, and the same goes for comparing, filtering, and analyzing segment efforts.
Route planning is also moving to subscribers only, and Strava says that they have a major redesign in the works. Monthly activity trends and comparisons, the training logs on Android and Strava.com will be for subscribers only, as will matched runs, which analyze performance on identical runs over time.
Recently, Strava also changed the way their activity feed runs, shifting it from a “favorites first” to a chronological order.
While Strava emphasized that the changes were necessary for the company’s health, which totals 180 employees, not everyone agreed with the changes or their viewpoint.
“I can’t see how maintaining something fixed on a digital map can be hard as well as expensive,” said one user on the Strava Facebook page. “The OS coordinates don’t move even if the map gets updated. As a user, it just feels as if you’re trying to justify changing the whole Strava experience. £4 a month also seems a bit pricey when others do it for free.”
Others argued that the app might not be as effective in hooking new users as it previously was.
“A leaderboard is not a leaderboard unless everyone is on there. I was thinking of reinstating my premium account but I’m actually much less likely to do that now,” commented one Strava user on the brand’s Facebook post. “The leaderboard in many cases is what gets people hooked on Strava, removing it as a free feature could mean a lot of people go with another platform,” they continued.
But, as with any change, there will always be two camps, and some will happily continue to use the app.
“Dear Strava, I applaud you and am happy to continue paying my subscription…” added another user. “You have created one of the few positive social media sites out there and you fuel my competitive spirit. Thanks for so many great years of hunting KOMS and great memories.”