Suunto’s Hard Transition: Movescount Out, Suunto App FTW

It’s already been about a year that the Suunto app ran in parallel to Suunto’s Movescount; now, finally, they have clarified what their transition plans are: Retire Movescount, focus on mobile.

For Long-Time Suunto Users…

For longer-time Suunto users, the news are a bit of a shocker.

After all, Movescount is likely to hold a large number of your recordings, be the repository for your routes, serve you for analysis of your performance and how it developed.

And with summer 2020 (at the earliest), that will be no more.

The Suunto app, meanwhile, only has some of those features.

Transitioning…

Now, Suunto is saying that move data transfer from Movescount to Suunto app will become available this spring (2019), long before Movescount is retired. And even if the Suunto app will not show some of the data from those moves, it will be in the database to be shown later. Or not.

Routes, for example, will not be transferred over. For data like that, it will be necessary to export from Movescount.

Frankly, one’s own store of routes increasingly seems necessary to me, anyways (unless you just trust online portals and use the routes they offer – same as I increasingly save and show the GPX of my trails here, actually…)

Mobile Only?

Perhaps the biggest lack, going by what Suunto has been saying, is that they seem to be going mobile-first, if not mobile-only.

The only reason I’m not always just calling it mobile-only is *not* that you can (currently) see the activity logs that you have saved via the Suunto app on Sports-Tracker. That is just a fluke resulting from how the Suunto app came out of Suunto’s acquisition of Sports-Tracker.

Sports-Tracker will not, however, become the web platform for the Suunto app; going by the current information, there will simply not be a web platform provided by Suunto.

Why it’s still not mobile-only?

The Suunto app does not yet offer over-the-air of Suunto watch firmware. There is no WIFi on those watches for updates, either.

To update watch firmware, you still need to have a computer with Suuntolink installed. It just does not serve for any synchronization of watch logs anymore, it updates the GPS data, shows battery levels, and informs about and does firmware updates, if they are available.

Seeing how much has been said about Suunto doing rather well in the Chinese market – and Amer Sports (the company holding Suunto as well as Salomon, Arc’teryx, Wilson, and others) has been pretty much taken over by a Chinese consortium – a mobile-focused strategy is very understandable.

Then they would have to go all-in with a mobile strategy, though.

Goodbye, Ambit3 Apps, Ambit3 and Traverse Customization…?

While newer watches beginning with the Spartan collection have received sports mode customization in the Suunto app, the Ambit3 and Traverse will lose that.

At least going by current information from Suunto, more will be lost:

  • Sports mode customization will disappear (unless Suunto puts it into the app, which I would hope, but do not really expect as it would be quite different from the newer watches’ customization, thus costly)
  • Route creation/transfer for these older watches is not mentioned (though I would be surprised if that didn’t come).
    Then again, the app currently does not support waypoints, and neither do the newer watches, in any sensible way.
  • Suunto Ambit apps will no longer be available
  • The Ambit3 will lose complex workouts (a feature of the Movescount app)

All that Suunto really says for these legacy devices is that they will have some compatibility, e.g. to sync training data and view logs, get the GPS optimization, and get notifications (like now).

Suunto also mentions “enriching your trainings with images,..”, “social sharing” and syncing with other services, but that’s all just things that the app can do with the logs once synced (or one could do with exported logs, always and everywhere they are supported).

Pre-Bluetooth Devices

The “usable life” of watches older than the Ambit 3, which were built without Bluetooth connectivity, will obviously be considered over: They will not have compatibility with the Suunto app (since they can’t be synced with phones).

It’s really over not because of that, but because the retirement of Movescount will mean that they will no longer have a platform to sync data with.

So, Ambit, Ambit2, M, t3 and t6, and Quest are all out. Frankly, if you still use any of those watches (except maybe an Ambit 2), you are way out of your time…

The Suunto App Blank Slate

If you’ve only just come to Suunto with a  Suunto 9 and started with the Suunto app, as you should have in that case, you would have noticed only that the app is developing rather quickly and nicely.

The main issue you may notice is that daily HR is not stored and shown anywhere the way that Garmin and Polar and Fitibit and everyone do it for their devices with 24/7 HR tracking.

You can customize the screens of your Spartan or Suunto 9 or Suunto 3 Fitness, though (to increasing extent, if still not completely). By now, you can not only create routes in the app (with some upsides like the ability to switch maps while doing that, and the downside of the small screen), you can also import GPX files to create routes from those. (I will shortly have a video on that.)

It is also possible to see quite a bit of training data and to get some analysis – and more. It’s actually high time we had a closer look at everything the Suunto app offers by now; last year’s video is very dated.

Suunto Partners

Perhaps a main point of the Suunto app, however, is that it is much more open to other platforms and services than anything from Suunto has ever been.

Suunto has deepened a partnership with Strava, recently brought TrainingPeaks syncing straight into the Suunto app, and offers (itself for) many more services and partnerships.

If you already use Strava, especially Strava Premium (okay, Summit, packs, whatever they are calling it right now), for your data storage, analysis, and sharing, then you can just set up the Suunto app to auto-sync there and you get all the data from your (new) Suunto watch there, and presto.

Change to another watch (or brand), sync there with Strava, continue as you have.

Only if you think that a $600 watch should come with an ecosystem of its own maker, that doesn’t seem to be Suunto’s idea anymore. They are working towards an ecosystem based on partnerships, for better or worse:

With what they are doing with Movesense sensors, that seems very interesting. For users who want to use Strava or TrainingPeaks, it’s not bad.

If you wanted your analysis all from Suunto, because you bought a Suunto, then prepare to re-think that, and invest some more.

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2 Comments

  1. Tobias

    “Ambit, Ambit2, M, t3 and t6, and Quest are all out. Frankly, if you still use any of those watches (except maybe an Ambit 2), you are way out of your time” think it’s a bit harsh comment, it’s not about out of time in my opinion but using perfectly working devices as long the hardware is functioning and not decapitating them by shut off background services that are also working perfectly fine, planned obsolence? missing sales on spartans compare to Ambit series? Maybe there is more to this in the back that Suunto don’t want to reveal … moving from an device independent open browser accessible web platform as movescount.com was to a closed app on iOS and Android only with no way to see and review your data with a simpel web browser is a backward move in my opinion…

    • Well, I mean in terms of generations of technology devices: Counting back from the Suunto 9, an Ambit is at least 3 generations of devices (one could count it as 5) back. How many people still use smartphones that are three generations back, six years old? By 2020, make than one more year…

      In terms of current tech, the way people love telling me when they e.g. want Galileo support already, that’s prehistoric.

      Of course, you are also absolutely right. In terms of using devices as long as they work well, not creating their obsolescence, this is a backwards move. Suunto people have hinted at Movescount not being up-to-date in terms of some current tech and/or being too difficult to teach new tricks, but I wouldn’t be surprised if a lot of the decisions were driven more by business than any other considerations.

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