VirtuGO, a competitor to Zwift that is headed up by former Sky rider and world time trial champ Michael Rogers, has announced it is closing down. So there is one less cycling application to chose from.
The site allows users to ride around preconceived courses in the same way as Zwift. It announced to users in an email that it is closing its servers on 25 November.
Competition is never a bad thing in any area. In the case of indoor cycling applications, the question is whether there is room for another social-based cycling app like Zwift. VirtuGO’s decision makes this seem unlikely. However, the site had one of the best graphical displays available as outlined in this eulogy by DC Rainmaker:
According to DC Rainmaker, the site had around 1000 regular users and was significantly cheaper than both Zwift and Trainneroad. The sad thing about cycling applications like this going down is the effect it has on the users. Presumably, many would have got to know the site and based their training around it.
Things were not going too badly for it. In the view of many VirtuGO contained the gamification of Zwift with better options in terms of training. Just a personal view but this is where Zwift falls down. Here’s an outline of it that was written by Travis Rassat and published a couple of weeks ago on Slowtwitch.
Perhaps one of the issues for the project was its lack of availability in Android or iOS. Many people prefer to use mobile OS’s to run their training software (not me though). For context here is a review of the beta product from last year. Undoubtedly, this is good for Zwift. Yet there were obviously some people who enjoyed it . Moreover, the problem when challenger apps like this go down is where else you go if you don’t like Zwift. Zwift has a huge amount of backing. So if success is about money rather than user experience then that is good for no one.
And Maximum Trainer has also shut down
Another indoor cycling application to stop is Maximum Trainer. Sadder still, this was a free product. If you haven’t used it, Maximum Trainer was fairly similar to Trainerroad in that it was built around structured workout programmes. It looks like the product was built by a solo developer, or just a few, with the hope that others would come in. However, neither that nor donations came. Here is what Maximum Trainer said on 7 September:
We are closing the app and site. Unfortunately, we had no external developer help and donation can not even pay for the hosting of this site. Thanks for the ones who supported us!
It is often this way with free or opensource software. A developer will start a project and get it off the ground. But software applications require continue love and care as hardware apis change, bugs come out of nowhere, and users simply require more. In the words of Highlander, there can be only one. Or two or three. But, one suspects, not much more than that.