Strava screws non-paying users, removes features and breaks 3rd-party apps

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Strava, one of the best fitness applications you can find on any platform, is getting significantly worse for people who don’t pay for the service. It’s removing three major features for non-paying users, as well as one notable feature regarding third-party application support.

The biggest blow is that Strava is removing full leaderboard access for anyone who doesn’t subscribe to its premium plan. Starting immediately, if you’re not a Strava subscriber, you’ll only see the top 10 times (all-time and top 10 women results) on any particular segment leaderboard. Non-paying users also no longer have access to the “People I’m following,� “My results,� or “This year� segment breakdowns. You can see the top 10 times for a segment, but you can’t see where your time fits into the leaderboard.

Over 44,000 third-party apps are compatible with Strava, many of which can access segment leaderboards. Unfortunately, you can pick up on what’s coming next. Strava is removing leaderboard access from all third-party apps. The only apps that will continue to show Strava leaderboards are ones that already have Strava Live Segment support.

The most baffling thing about this removal is the fact that Strava is giving developers just 30 days to fix the apps that it just broke, otherwise their apps may return an error message for the data that Strava is no longer providing. Strava claims (via DC Rainmaker) that it notified a handful of major developers about this change, but the majority of third-party app developers didn’t get the message before today. Strava literally just broke everyone’s apps and said: “Your 30 days start now.�

Failing to notify developers ahead of this major change is a huge misstep.

If you’re going to remove leaderboards from the main Strava app, you obviously don’t want third-party apps to still have access to that data, otherwise people will simply use non-Strava apps. But failing to notify developers ahead of this announcement is a major misstep for the company and does not instill much confidence in the platform.

In addition to those two changes, non-paying Strava users can no longer access the web route builder. Since this feature doesn’t exist on mobile, users will simply need to use another route-building app. Non-paying users have also lost access to the “matched runs� feature. This certainly isn’t as big as the leaderboard removal, but it still adds to the list of things being taken away from free users.

Oh yeah: all changes mentioned in this article are effective immediately.

These changes are happening for a reason. Strava is having a hard time making ends meet with its current subscription model so it needs to do something to bring in more cash. And I wouldn’t blame you for thinking this is a positive move in many respects. Strava needs money, so it’s making the paid tier more desirable. However, instead of giving new features to premium subscribers, it’s taking away Strava staples from non-paid users. It’s going about these changes all wrong and will surely turn many users away.

I don’t want to say it’s all doom and gloom. Paid Strava users are getting a new web route builder, as well as a few redesigned elements in the Strava mobile app. Non-paying users, though, are out of luck.

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