Giving your customers the Downward Dog

Never mess with your devout yogis or yoginis!  Behind that calm, grounded and pliable exterior, quite a lot of the yoga community seem on-edge and ready to go for your jugular at a moment’s notice.

What am I talking about?

I’ve been doing yoga for a few years, almost entirely thanks to the Yoga Studio App.
My inflexibility and devout maleness prevents me from venturing out into public yoga. The app works for me, and I’m sure yoga classes everywhere work much better without me.

But last week when I wanted to do yoga, I found I was locked out.

Gaiam, the company who acquired the Yoga Studio App, changed the business model to subscription-based.  The app now gives nothing but a sign-up page. All the loyal premium customers lost access to the content they paid for.

The effect was immediate.

The communication was nil.  But the outcry was massive!

In one day the company’s Facebook reviews and appstore ratings, went from 5 stars down to 1. And as the ratings reset with each new version, some users said they will keep giving 1 star reviews. Others mentioned, they would share alternatives on the appstore reviews.

Hundreds of nasty responses came to the company’s eventual tweet to outline what happened.  And the company cowardly replied to only people who had subscribed; not to the existing mass of upset users.

Some iOS customers quoted a breach of apple’s app store review guidelines, 3.1.2(a): specifically,

If you are changing your existing app to a subscription-based business model, you should not take away the primary functionality existing users have already paid for.

(My emphasis added.)

Others suggested this commercial ploy was pure ransomware.

I wonder if it was just tough talk in the hope the company would switch their decision.

I didn’t comment or reach out.  I figured common-sense would prevail.

And it seems Gaiam has changed their position.  Their latest message suggests they will restore the original content for premium customers, once an update is released.  Users would then need to subscribe only if they wish to get new content in the future – which seems fair.

Perhaps it’s too little, too late. Many folks have switched to one of the many alternatives.
I myself have begun assessing alternatives, like Yoga with Adrienne‘s YouTube channel, Downward Dog, Fitstar Yoga, Yoga Academy, and Asana Rebel.  They all have their benefits (and downsides).  It’s sadly just an evaluation exercise I didn’t want to do.

One the irate customer’s observations is probably correct. We might have all subscribed to Yoga Studio App if it was communicated in advance, and our existing experience wasn’t taken from us without warning.

We all learn. Sadly too many learnings, come the hard way.