An Open Letter to RunKeeper: Quality over Brand

Dear RunKeeper,

I wasn’t really a runner until I met you. In 2009 I could barely make two miles. My early runs tracked with your software are laughable compared to what I can do now. Twelve marathons and nearly 5000 miles later I caught the bug, and you helped me get there.

Back when the app was $10 I bought it gladly. When you introduced a subscription I joined immediately, and have been a member ever since. You have been on my home screen for nearly the entire time I have owned the iPhone.

But lately things have not been great. I feel your quality slipping, and even more concerning to me is that your focus, at least from an outside perspective, seems to have strayed from what is most important. Your own marketing of your brand has become all consuming, far more important that the product itself.

For a month it seemed that all you were focused on was the logo. There was an entire release in the App Store whose release notes talked about branding and nothing else. This is a very worrying sign from a tech company. Like with another favorite of mine falling on hard times, Evernote, it signals a move away from caring about the core product. See also Twitter.

Meanwhile the app has gotten extremely buggy. I have lost runs due to the app crashing on upload, taking my data with it. My husband has given up using it entirely as the GPS data has been wildly inaccurate lately. But worst of all the Apple Watch app took my day one move streak and deleted it on the day of the New York City Marathon. Your user base is made up of fitness fanatics. This kind of data destruction is going to be unacceptable to them. Even if this was an iOS issue and out of your control, you have the email addresses of all your users. We should have been warned. But it seems the brand was more important than the users.

I am not leaving yet but I will be exporting all my data into preparation to do so. I am hoping you can turn this around.
1. Stop rebranding. You are good. We are happy with the look. Get back to the product.
2. Communicate with your users. If there are bugs, especially ones that can result in data loss, we need to know.
3. Focus on reliability. No one wants to use an app that fails as often as it succeeds.
4. Get back to being about running and the runners who love it. The bright lights of Silicon Valley and its destructive culture of funding are the sirens that lead so many innovators to their deaths upon the rocks.
5. You don’t need to be the biggest run tracking app in the world, you need to be the best.

I want to stay with you RunKeeper I really do. I want to go back to the days when you were a small startup with a little app that just worked. No getting caught up in side projects (Breeze). No talk of the brand. I hate that word. That word is where you go when you are out of ideas. It is the word you use when the marketers and investors are running the show. Do not let his happen. Get back on course.

An Open Letter to RunKeeper: Quality over Brand was last updated November 4th, 2015 by Michael Truskowski