After 5 years, ConnectStats still has a lot of features to offer. There are still analysis I resort to ConnectStats to see: the month to month comparison of you best achieved heart rate, pace or power – hard to find on comparable apps, the comparison of activities, the deep dives into laps with gradient or scatter plots. I also still like the fact you can access, slice and display most numbers of your runs over time or for a given activity.
That said the app is clearly a lot less successful that it used to be. Why? I think there are a few factors.
First, I have been working on the app a lot less. I had less time to focus, but mostly, it’s hard to come up with new ideas that will make a difference in the app. It used to be that, thanks to feedback or my own analysis needs, there was always a list of new ideas to implement, which kept the app interesting for users over time. Today I don’t have a list of great ideas that would enhance the core functionality of the app, which is in-depth analytics of fitness activities. I have a few little gimmick ideas or customisation improvements that some user suggested, but nothing ground breaking.
Second, the big apps got so much better. I confess that I myself often use Strava when I just want a glance at my last activity. The social aspect is also nice and a key draw for me; but it is hard (and probably pointless) to implement in ConnectStats. Their user interface evolved a lot and look quite a lot nicer than ConnectStats. Improving that is also not simple, because the UI in ConnectStats is data driven in quite generic way. Customising the UI isn’t part of ConnectStats design.
Last and not least, the discoverability of the app has reduced a lot. ConnectStats used to appear at the top of the App Store search for Garmin Connect, just below Garmin’s own. Not anymore. First people can now pay to be first, second the App Store ranking process has changed and now ConnectStats appears quite low on the search. I don’t know what changed, but it definitely hurts the visibility of an independent app. I never advertised in the past. So search ranking in the store was the key reason I believe the app was successful, given it always had a lot of positive reviews. As I felt somewhat sad at the drop in popularity of the app last week, I did something I had always refused to do: I paid to promote the app. One week promotion on facebook, just because it was easy and facebook had emailed me to suggest it. I paid 2GBP per day for a week. It clearly had little impact. A dozen like, Yay!. Clearly a bad use of money I won’t repeat…
I will see how the story evolves. I will continue to maintain ConnectStats. Part of it because it’s fun. I always look forward to June and the WWDC (apple developer event) when they announce the feature of the next iOS, study what feature can I try to incorporate into the app and learn details about what Apple provides developer with each year. The app is also now open source, so maybe it will help someone or someone will get new ideas to share with me.
But of course I secretly hope something will happen and ConnectStats will regain a second life…