Thursday, September 16, 2010

Money Spoils Everything Wholesome

I feel compelled to do a quick post on this here. I just want to level with everyone, so everyone knows exactly what is happening.

Ever since Lifehacker covered this little app, we've experienced steady growth. As I write this, over 8,300 people have sent links using android2cloud-- over 38,000 links! We've gained early access to the Channel API, and everyone has been amazing about taking this little project and making sure it stays something fun, free, and open.

Since July, people have been generously donating money to keep the server online. I don't know if people realise the scale of this: over $300 have been donated since July to keep the server churning away. We're serving 110 CPU hours every day. That's a lot of requests-- about 8 million a day, give or take. Really, you guys rock.

But those requests don't come cheap. The server bills have been averaging about $65 a week-- they can range anywhere from $50 to $80, depending on usage and some factors outside our control (like App Engine latency). And as server costs have grown, donations have dwindled. As any economist will tell you, this leads to us running out of money to keep the server up. I'm kind of supporting it right now, but I can't do this for any length of time. I'm a college student-- keeping this server alive would eat up more than half my weekly income. It's just not feasible for me right now to swallow the costs-- I wish it were. :(

I'm not asking you to donate more. I'm really not. You people are the most wonderful, supportive users a developer could ask for. I'm humbled and mildly embarrassed that over 8,000 people even bothered to download my app-- something that started as a summer project, so I could gain some skills in Java while pursuing my only half-serious pipe dream of working for Google. The fact that people donated money to keep it running-- in chunks as large as $50!-- and that the community has shown me so much support and kindness throughout all of this... it's unreal. I couldn't, and wouldn't, think of asking for you to donate more to help this project out. You all do way too much, as it is.

I just want to level with you. From the beginning, this has been our journey. Together. Your ideas are as good as (if not better than) mine, and this app is as much yours as it is mine. Wherever it ends up, it ends up because you helped me, and I (I hope!) helped you get it there. And so now I'm telling you: here is where the app is, right now. Here is where our server is.

Right now, I'm exploring a few options. A very nice person has offered to help, as a "sponsor", with the proviso that we link back to their company. I'm not sure where the link would need to be. I promise you all, I won't do anything of the sort if I find it distasteful as a user. There is no harm, however, in recognising and honouring the friends that are kind to us-- so long as we do it tastefully.

I'm toying with the option of a VIP server, which has all the same features, but which I would guarantee uptime for. That would probably be a monthly charge sort of thing. That requires me doing a whole lot of programming that makes the app no easier or better to use, however, so I'm putting that on a "last resort" list.

I'd love to hear your opinions and thoughts on this. With a few caveats:

  1. I will not be charging for the app. This is totally against the idea of FOSS, and is something that would make me feel slimy and unable to look myself in the mirror in the morning. This app is where it is because we put it there together. I'm not about to charge you for it.
  2. I will not be displaying advertising for the app. There is no clean, tasteful way to do this that doesn't hurt your experience. And I'm just not okay with that.
Other than those two, however, please let me know if you have any thoughts or suggestions. And really, sincerely, thank you all for taking this roller-coaster ride with me. I'll be keeping the quotas where they are until Thursday, September 23rd. At that point, unless we find some way to fund this, they will be cut in half, and the downtime will begin shortly-thereafter. On Thursday, September 30th, the quotas will be cut entirely, and downtime will be imminent and frequent from then on.

This seems like a very good time to mention that if anyone wants to host their own server or join the beta, I'm more than happy to help in whatever ways I can. Reach out to me on Buzz (foran.paddy at gee mail-- you know the drill), Twitter (@android2cloud or @paddyforan), in the Google Group, or in email (paddy at android2cloud dot org). I'll give you whatever assistance I can.

1 comment:

  1. Have you seen you're mentioned here :

    It would be amazing to merge android2cloud with Chrome to Phone... And maybe it could help you getting hired by Google !