Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Android and Ads

Tonight, we rolled out versions of the server and Android. The server update is just a little caching tweak, something that will save us some of our server expenses. Users shouldn't notice anything at all. In Android, we fixed Silent Sending.

We also enabled ads. Sort of.

"But wait!" I hear you cry. "You publicly promised not to do that!" And you're right. I have promised, several times, never to install ads on this. And I will agree I'm eating my own foot at the moment. In my defense, however, I am not quite doing what I promised not to. I promised not to shove ads in your face, and I intend to keep that promise (as long as I can). This is not an excuse, and it does not mean I didn't break a promise. I feel really bad about it. I'm sorry. I really hope it's the last time it happens.

You'll notice I said I'm not shoving ads in your face. There are ads, yes. But they are controlled by a single checkbox in the preferences screen. By default, they are turned off. If you do absolutely nothing, you will never even know they're there. If, however, you want a way to support us and help pay for the public server without actually having to cough up your own money, it's now just a checkbox away.

This broken promise wounds me, and adding ads wounds me. I believe strongly in having things serve their purpose and serve it well, with no extra junk. Ads, to me, are extra junk in this project. They do not directly achieve it's purpose, do not directly benefit the users.

Unfortunately, it had to be done. I did some math, and Second Bit, the company that's paying for the server, had enough money to keep the server online for about 40 days before being entirely out of money. The server costs only $16 a week, but when you're a small software company whose only revenue-earning employee is a full-time student and runs an open source project, revenue is kind of a trickle. After some calculations, I realised that the 2cloud Project accounted for over 20% of the money that Second Bit has spent to date. That "to date" includes filing fees, designers, and other assorted expenses-- 2cloud was 20% of all of that.

My partner and I sat down and talked about it, and had two options: we either need to get 2cloud breaking even or even generating revenue, or we would need to shut down the public server in 40-some-odd days anyways, as we ran out of money. It was a long conversation that was emotionally pretty hard on me, but the ads were arrived at as the lesser of the two evils.

I'm sorry I can't fund this project myself. I'm sorry it needs to find a way to sustain itself. I really am. I wish I could make our perpetual money problem go away, but I can't. If you hate the ads and think we're just trying to scam you and make a quick buck, I do not fault you at all for leaving the Display Ads checkbox unchecked. You are not a bad person, and we will still do our best to support you.

But if you can, it would really help us out if you could check that box, and when you see an ad that interests you, click it. By our estimates, if we can get 100 clicks a day from our 10,000+ userbase, the server will be paid for.

Thank you all for sticking with us. It means a lot to the team. We're working hard on making 2.1 what you expect this service to be, something we can be proud of. We really hope you like it.