I started to notice the change in tone a few weeks ago.
I've been using Strava as my go-to run tracking platform for about 5 years, and in that time I've done so almost exclusively as a mooch. There was a short stretch when I paid for a minor upgrade, but I cancelled out of that shortly after. But clearly, for most of the time I've been using it I've been doing so for free.
Which is great and all, but the world has changed: pandemic economic realities, a shift in the notion of what it means to provide a service for free, and the shift to ad-supported everything. In amongst all that, Strava seemed to have a tonal shift towards that of almost-everything-is-free to the-stuff-that-costs-us-most-is-now-premium-content.
These are the warning shots of a company running out of cash.
Uploading a few megabytes of GPS run data each month is cheap for them.
Processing billions of GPS data point to provide route analysis, segment comparison, and activity breakdowns is computationally expensive -- and cloud providers like AWS and Google are starting to crank up the costs of these services.
So the tone shift is one of trying to keep as much free as possible (which seems to linger in the domain of storage and social services) and get some people to pitch in for the computer power. The too long didn't read version of this is that I like Strava and if a few bucks a month keeps it going for a while longer... then I wanted to subscribe and pitch in. That, and my running world has almost completely collapsed in the last six months, I'm not sure I can deal with another big change anytime soon.