Strava just released a new update that might just save them.
“Might just save them?”
That’s a strange term to use in relation to one of the most popular fitness apps on planet Earth. One that has seen its userbase skyrocket over the past three years.
But I could see the signs.
I could even feel it happening.
The life expectancy of a Strava customer.
No, we’re not talking about how much more likely you are to crash whilst chasing some silly downhill KOM.
I mean your lifespan as a Strava customer. In other words, how long would it be before you’d get bored and just stop using it?
My theory went something like this:
People who are just getting into cycling and developing their fitness from scratch would love the sense of progress they’d get through their first year.
The second year would be even better as they’d be continually be improving and getting PB’s. Who knows, maybe even some top tens or KOM’s?
But then comes the plateau.
Everyone hits a point in time when they’ve already done the fastest time they’re ever going to do, up any given hill.
So where’s your next little dopamine hit gonna come from now, huh? Back to BuzzFeed?
Strava works because it’s a game.
Gamification principles were built right in to Strava from the start. It was the USP that made it take off.
But it’s always needed to expand and develop them, in my view. I blogged about this before, go read “Strava – give us more achievements” if you’re interested.
To kick off 2015, Strava have introduced the concept of annual KOM’s. Read the announcement post on the Strava blog.
It’s a long way off some of the ideas in post I mentioned above, but it’s a fantastic start.
First impressions of actually getting a 2015 KOM?
I went for my first road ride of the year today. My birthday, as it happens.
And I got two 2015 KOM’s.
The longest one was timed at 12:35, but the real KOM holder did it a whole three minutes faster. But that was probably in summer, right?
On a cold greasy day in January, still feeling half full of Christmas indulgence, I’ll settle for that.
If you’ve been watching the leaderboards during the first week in January, nearly every ride is mostly 2015 KOM’s but it’s rapidly settling down and will soon feel like more of a real achievement.
Not only that, it will make genuine all-time KOM’s even more special.
One thing slightly confused me.
When I checked the leaderboard for “this year” for one of the segments, I had the top time, but it was also my second fastest attempt ever, so the achievement given was for the personal second best.
When I checked the Strava blog, I found this graphic illustrates the hierarchy nicely. An all-time personal best (or second or third) beats an annual KOM, even if it was in fact, the annual KOM.
To summarise, I think this is a much needed development and could well help to save Strava from sinking into obscurity as people eventually get bored and leave.
The customer lifespan has been extended.
Just imagine if they did something about silly duplicate/overlapping segments!
No doubt some people will scoff at the new Strava annual KOM’s.
Like fifteen year olds, maybe. They’re guaranteed to get faster and faster over the next 15-20 years, and probably can’t comprehend anything beyong the next 2 weeks anyway. They won’t get it.
But for us, ahem, more mature riders it’s a useful and motivating feature.
We all know a segment or two where the actual KOM was probably achieved during a hurricane, and nobody is ever likely to beat it without extreme (and probably dangerous) meteorological assistance.
For these, the Annual KOM’s might still bring a bit of Kudos your way.
What do you think of the new annual KOM’s?
Let it all out in the comments!
Incidentally, the omnipotent VeloViewer has taken steps towards achievements that are more in line with the sort of thing I was suggesting in the post I linked to above.
For example: Distance awards are calculated and presented like this. There are similar awards for elevation and time (duration of ride).
Strava have a history of taking the best of third party efforts and bringing that functionality in house, to expand their Premium offer. Just think of heat maps, and raceshape.