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Trailforks Locks Down Access To User Generated Content

The popular trail mapping app, Trailforks, announced today that it taking it’s formerly free trail mapping app and severely limiting its use for non-paying users. Here are the things users will be losing in the app unless they pay for a subscription:

  • Access to maps in app, except for a 38×38 mile home area.
  • Heat maps
  • GPX file downloads
  • Unlimited wishlist items

You’ll notice that I specifically say losing. None of these are new features to Trailforks. Trailforks is simply taking user-contributed data and putting it behind a paywall. It’s pretty audacious and pretty amazing that Trailforks expects users to pony up to access the data they contributed without any additional features being added on day one.

The economics of the interaction with the user are all wrong here. Users submit trails, ride reports, updates etc. Without those submissions Trailforks is nothing. However, Trailforks has decided to double-dip by making users work to maintain and contribute new trail data and also pay to access that data that they submit.

The 38×38 mile limit for free users is laughable as well. I regularly ride Telluride, Rico, Fruita, Grand Junction, Gunnison, Crested Butte, and Moab. All of these zones are further than the limited area in different directions. Heck many mountain bike rides are further than 38 miles.

Trailforks plans to charge $1.49 per month for early adopters this month and then raise the price to $2.99 after that. Overall I don’t feel like this was the way to roll out a “pro” option for Trailforks. Giving no consideration to the fact that all the data they are now selling is user-generated seems rather capricious.

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