1 (edited by Guillotine 2008-05-16 19:58:00)

Topic: Ads to be increased?

Heya! I've searched around a bit for this, but haven't found any posts dated any time recently, and knowing how these things have changed, I'd like to get the most recent news on this.

Part of the ToS state that Chumby reserves the right to insert their own widgets (i.e. ads) into the stream. If I buy the Chumby, will I find ads on my alarm clock in a year? Or are ads going to be limited to certain ad-supported widgets (i.e. so we know what we are getting into)?

Any information on this is appreciated.


Edit: After further research, it appears ads are already appearing, yet I have not seen whether these are attached to certain widgets or are simply part of the service.

Re: Ads to be increased?

Have a look at the bottom of this thread - http://forum.chumby.com/viewtopic.php?id=2389 - to see how to avoid these extra widgets (until / unless Chumby 'fixes' this).

Re: Ads to be increased?

Thanks quiz, but I actually saw that smile My thought on it though is that a bug like that will most likely get fixed. From what I hear of the way ads work now, I have no problem. What I am worried about is the vagueness in the terms of service, and Chumby's plans for the future.

Re: Ads to be increased?

It's not a bug - it's just the way things work now.  There's currently a minimum number of widgets in the channel before sponsored widgets are added, and that number changes from time to time.

Everyone seems to be terrified of the whole "ads" thing, but really, if you think about it, if we did something stupid like barrage you all with obnoxious ads that start blaring stuff, then you'd simply turn the device off or hack around them, and that simply doesn't make sense as a business.

Re: Ads to be increased?

Duane, I'm not bugged by the 'ads' - I *wanted* to see them and hence my experiments and postings on it. I was also concerned that you might be unaware of this <10 widget behaviour, and it might be undermining your business model. I trust that Chumby Industries will deliver valuable content, and that your partners are also aware that if they don't share something valuable within the ad, that no one is going to interact with it, and it loses it's value to the advertiser.

In short - I'm on your side on this 'issue'.

Re: Ads to be increased?

So far I havent any complaints with some of the *extra content*. Some of it is actually useful/good to know at this point... People should not be at all surprised... If your using a service based device and not paying a subscription fee, something has to pay the bills for the backend...

But those with the "But I dont want ads mentality"
So far the ads have been minor and quite tasteful/useful... if this is an ongoing trend, its not bad..
Other providers who left this (data appliance) buisness, and Chumby's competetors (Ooobe and Widgetstation).. both have subscription fees last I checked....

I do like the idea of having a value-added subscription model, but as Duane pointed out.. If they barraged you with too many ads, youd just shut the thing off or completely rewrite the firmware and they couldnt support that buisness model either...

Re: Ads to be increased?

I for one did not get my chumby for free so I don't really think that I owe anyone my time or attention to watch ads. Unless I am missing something the channel service as far as I can see is only serving up simple widgets that could be hosted anywhere. Therefore I will be looking for some way to hack it to disable this unwanted content.

8 (edited by joltdude 2008-06-05 17:26:07)

Re: Ads to be increased?

Vander. you got it for close to cost of build and delivery.. Chumby Inc. does not QUITE have the cost reduction effecto of large scale production so.. Yes you actually do have an obligation to pay for the service portion of it, whether it is watching ads or a subscription fee.... Your paying for a service to provide you with content and content delivery.... Why isnt this any different than free to air television in the US (note i did NOT say cable or subscription service).... or gettings ads on websites that do not charge a subscription fee? Or paying a yearly fee for a router or antivirus program?

Re: Ads to be increased?

Sorry, thats not my problem. I bought a device not a service, Chumby should concentrate on sellling the device. The dot com era is strewn with the corpses of companies that tried this very flawed business model. I really think that companies that want to advertise their products should realize that associating their brand with a feeling of annoyance in the consumer is not in their best interest. When I look at my chumby and see an ad, i am immediately annoyed, if i happen to watch long enough to see the name of the company advertising (which i don't normally do as i have no interest in watching the ad at all), i will associate my annoyance with that company.

As for the service, i do not understand what exactly the service is? Chumby serving up a set of javascripts written by the user community? This doesn't seem like something really worth paying for or even less something worth watching ads for.

I run Fedora on all my machines and it periodically checks for software updates and provides me with a facility to install software on request. I don't pay for this service, nor do i have to have ads shoved in my face because I use yum. In my estimation, this is the equivalent service that Chumby is providing. Which is bandwith to distribute software updates and user developed content to support the device that they sell.

I'd be perfectly happy to find, download and install widgets without using the Chumby service, or i'd be willing to possibly pay a small fee (no more than $10 or $20 per year) to use the channel. Playing advertisements on the device simply cripples it and will prevent it from ever gaining widespread acceptence.

10 (edited by joltdude 2008-06-06 06:24:11)

Re: Ads to be increased?

Well when your chumby stops sending you widgets... Its not my problem
You bought a device *KNOWING* it was supported by ads then turn around and go, Why are there ads on this, get rid of em...
Get ready to be paying a subscription fee for the hosting problem or perhaps youll see a BLANK chumby screen...

Go ahead, hack away the ads... And when your chumby becomes a doorstop, dont come crying to us
Or when they decide to close source the whole thing and go with a propriatary solution....

Do you know how Fedora makes money... Customer Support....
Do you want chumby charging for customer support?

And just for the record I paid for my chumby after putting it on hold for months....

Its people like you who always expect something for nothing.. theres a cost to anything "free" your just not used to accepting that fact.

Re: Ads to be increased?

Presumably somebody is paying for the bandwidth and repository space for Fedora so you can get "free" updates and packages. 

Who do you think that is, and why are they doing it?  If it's the community, what are you doing as part of that community to support that system and help defray these costs?

None of these systems are free-as-in-beer - *somebody* is paying the freight.  We're just a bit more explicit about how that happens - in our case, we make advertisers pay for it instead of our customers, our investors or the government.

You are correct that you bought a device, not a service.  You are absolutely, 100% welcome to *not* use the service - we've documented everything you need to know to do whatever you wish with the device independent of Chumby Industries, and there's no EULA or other legal document that requires you to use the service in concert with your device.

Someone *could* conceivably create an alternative service to ours - however, in order to serve the same widgets, such a service would have to obtain permission from each of the widget authors to redistribute the widgets.

If, however, you choose to utilize our service and consume our bandwidth, we'd appreciate you using it in accordance with the terms under which we offer it - and please understand that we have the corresponding right to discontinue access to the same service to those that don't abide by those terms.  As you pointed out, you didn't buy our service, so we have no obligation to provide it to you. The freedom you're advocating goes both ways.

Sound fair?

Re: Ads to be increased?

As I said I'm not trying to get anything for nothing. I did in fact pay for the device. Whether or not it is sold at cost or near a loss is really no concern of mine. I expect that the price point is what it is because that is the most you can expect someone to pay for something like this. My main concern is the following issues:

1) The fact that the device essentially shoves adverstising in your face is not something that is obvious from the purchase web site. I looked and only place that I can see this mentioned is on the "Free Chumby Network" page where it says: "No subscriptions to pay, no plans to sign up for. It's paid for by Chumby Industries and by sponsor companies who will be sending you widgets such as music, games, movie previews, customized alarm clocks, and special offers for products." No doubt it says something un the terms of service after you've bought one and are setting it up. At which point it's pretty much too late and i've never met anyone that reads those things anyway. What is not clear at all here is that it is intrusive advertising. This is not the same as a banner on a web page that you either see or don't. This is like a popup or a web page the forces you to click through an ad to get content.

2) I think Chumby over estimates the value of the service and under estimates the availability or willingness of the community to support the device. I understand that since the device is configured from the website that it needs to phone home to detect configuration changes. But I think this is a serious design flaw. Chumby already has a web server built into it and it would be better to manage the device directly. There are lots of sites that host widgets including sourceforge where they could be loaded from. So again, i don't really think the service has much value to the consumer other than as a single point of configuration. It cleary has more value to Chumby Industries as a tether to the chumby owner that allows them to milk an income stream. As I mentioned in my previous post, this is a well know recipe for failure.

That said, I'm not saying these things to attack the Chumby company, but as a customer (and i bet as significant portion of your customer base feels the same way) i feel the need to tell you how badly the ad driven model affects my satisfaction. I do in fact like the device, and as i mentioned before, would pay a reasonable usage fee for it. At the very least the advertiseing frequency should be 1/10th of what it is now. I might not be as annoyed if i didn't see them so often.

Re: Ads to be increased?

An additional thought as well. In re-reading the posts above as related to Fedora. Since it as well as most other Linux distributions ships with code that I wrote and contributed for free,  I feel that as contributing member of that community, I have no problem using the bandwidth and storage space provided by other members of the community.

If they don't already Chumby Industries should consider providing ad free service to widget contributors.

14 (edited by joltdude 2008-06-06 09:29:32)

Re: Ads to be increased?

Vander, do us all a favor and deactivate your chumby and return it... See how useful it is when it cant connect to the network....
You have no appreciation for the developer or the fact they are trying to sell an open source product with value added... See how far you get without having any widgets since you do not have the license for them... Oh yeah. you know you cant use Adobe Flash either since thats a part of the licensing agreement with Adobe...

How useful would a chumby be without flash, a control panel, updates, and widgets.....

See if you can find a host that will provide you bandwidth without any costs/fees and without banner ads....
Youll be laughed at..

Truth be told id love to see you try to host, develop widgets,  support the hardware, and provide firmware upgrades for the chumby and not charge a cent for them (no income from customers, no VC, if it has a price tag, you cant do it except with *donations*... and see how quick you go out of buisness

These opinions are soley MINE and may or may not reflect those of Chumby Industries...

You been hanging around Richard Stallman too long..

Re: Ads to be increased?

I completely understand that you think our service adds no or little value to you and you don't want to see ads - since that's the case, I don't see any reason for you to use our service. As you point out, apparently there are alternatives, and you're absolutely welcome to use them instead, and we wish you all the best.  We've gone to some considerable effort to make that possible, unlike most other companies which make every attempt to lock you in.  We may be a little bit of a walled garden, but the exits are large, unlocked and clearly marked, precisely to accommodate folks such as yourself - please take advantage of the freedom we've preserved for you, so it wasn't just a waste of our time.

But if you choose to use our service, please abide by our terms.  There's *nothing* forcing you to use it - I personally have a couple of chumbys that do various things and don't use the Chumby Network at all, all done with information that's publicly available.

You may be right about our business model, time will tell - maybe it's better to have the users pay subscriptions to access the service, but that's not what *we've* heard from our customers so far (this forum, notwithstanding).

Re: Ads to be increased?

Thank you for your response. I've posted these messages because I feel it is very important for companies to receive feed back on their products so they might better run thier business. As a developer i really do appreciate the openness of the device and hope that many people take it in different directions. I also understand that you are aware that there is a threshold where users will turn the thing off or hack it and that it is related to the amount of ads that they are forced to tolerate. I hope you keep a close eye on this as it is quite low. In the meantime, while i am close to that threshold already, i will continue to use it until it is exceeded or better options come along.

I hope you have stock in Chumby Industries.

Re: Ads to be increased?

Thanks for your input, too.

We absolutely hear what you're saying, so please don't feel I'm just taking shots at you.  This has been a fundamental issue for the company since its founding, and we are where we are after a *lot* of deep thought.  Is it perfect? no - but it's the best answer we have.

In a previous incarnation, I acquired a flagship Web 1.0 company that had burned through $80M - after turning down an offer for $450M, my company bought them for just $7M.  We wanted to put some banner ads on the service in order to slow down the substantial capital burn. When I went in to talk to the engineers, of course, they were totally against it, and thought the service should be both free-as-in-beer and free from "evil" ads.

Unfortunately, they didn't seem to understand that the money manifested in their paychecks came from *somewhere* - in their case, their prior financing had come primarily from pension funds which at that point were never going to get anything back on their investments.  Effectively, they'd rather continue to soak old people's retirement accounts, with no intent to make good on the investment, than take money from advertising companies willing to give it.

Curiously, they didn't seem to be interested in being paid with code, the thing they otherwise considered the most valuable.

Re: Ads to be increased?

Always I think the secret to success is ... flexibility

19 (edited by joltdude 2008-06-06 11:01:01)

Re: Ads to be increased?

vanderfleet-martin wrote:

I hope you have stock in Chumby Industries.

No I don't have stock in Chumby Industries, but I choose my bedpartners wisely...
I tend to avoid RMS (Richard Stallman) syndrome (we live in a Utopia and can pay people with code, not money which pays for their work and families.) and know when theres a good thing, and at what cost it comes with...
If its too good to be true, it probably is... That applies for anything free as well...

Re: Ads to be increased?

Joltdude - I think you're mischaracterizing RMS just a bit.

He's not really advocating code be free-as-in-beer (aka "gratis") as much as he as free-as-in-freedom (aka "libre"), even though the end result is often similar due to the economic side effects of the libre license.  It's actually an accepted part of the Free software ecosystem that services that accompany the libre software are not necessarily gratis.

At Chumby Industries, we obviously benefit a great deal from the movement that RMS initiated, and we have tremendous gratitude for that, and, of course, the work by the Linux kernel team, and the hundreds of other developers that have created many of the software components we use. We make an effort to "give back" to that ecosystem - to the extent we're able to do under some of the constraints we operate under, we release our original code under the GPL and other Open and Free licenses as appropriate.  In some cases, we've compensated some developers with cash in exchange for accelerating the development in certain areas of interest to us - that's actually one of the ways that RMS envisioned how this ecosystem would work.

As mentioned in other threads, the chumby is *not* an entirely Free device, mainly due to the use of the closed Adobe Flash Lite Player and the Control Panel, although for completely different reasons.  We did this out of practicality, even if some might consider that "evil".  What we *have* done, though, is give people an officially sanctioned "escape hatch" from the closed components of the system for those that want a truly Free device.

So we harbor no ill will to RMS or his vision around here, even if we don't follow that path absolutely.

Re: Ads to be increased?

Chumby Nation!

I believe Duane is bang-on in his analysis & explanations. The Chumby business model would have considered consumer irritation regarding advertising, and settled upon a reasonable, acceptable amount to add a little more to the revenue stream. From what I can see, this is not the primary source of funding for the company, nor will it probably ever be. I do envision being able to charge sponsoring content providers (like NASCAR and CBS and NYT, to name just a few) for prominence of display & ranking, etc, and more dollars will accrue from there as the devices find homes worldwide. Unless you are staring at your Chumby all day long, you aren't really noticing it too often to be bothersome.

With all due respect to those who are vitriolic to the ads, sincerely ask yourself how much of a bother it really is to you, and then consider the incredible worth of the device you have in front of you. A small bit of advertising, tied to our interests and tastes through our selection of widgets seems an equally small price to pay to finance other services.

Specks of ambient advertising that you could simply avert your eyes to avoid doesn't seem worth all this hullaballoo.

Stay strong, Chumby Industries! The soften-spoken satisfied majority of users stand with you shoulder to shoulder.

22 (edited by joltdude 2008-08-20 07:51:20)

Re: Ads to be increased?

Well.. I think he went off the path when he re-did the GPL (v3) but I may be a bit exaggerating on the whole RMS characterization...
I was implying the issues with the whole GPL v3 and the Tivoli (er.. TiVO..my bad) clauses... No matter how many times I re-read that its seems utopian..

In regards to the advertisments.. again. I feel as if chumby has tried to make them somewhat less invading and intrusive.. Unlike broadcast TV they dont crank the sound volume while they are runnning (they actually do not produce sound untill played)... and they dont sit on screen any longer than most widgets...

You can only please some of the people some of the time, not all of the people all of the time.
I really do think Chumby Inc. has tried to "bring to the GPL party".. and should be dutifly rewarded for it....

Re: Ads to be increased?

I must admit, I see so few ads, that I have a hard time taking those who complain at all seriously.

Re: Ads to be increased?

I don't see any ads at all... and they don't have any effect on me (I don't get CBS in Australia, LOL) - but couldn't Chumby just charge a little extra for the Chumby itself?

Web Browser: Firefox/Flock
Chumby Colour: Latte Brown
Number of Chumby Channels: 3 (and they're big ones, too)

Re: Ads to be increased?

The problem with adding it on to the cost per unit is it doesn't take long to burn through that additional revenue...
Providing service is a reoccurring cost, and im guessing that even adding a hundred bucks to the price, would only cover a year of service, including tech support... now if there were more chumbys... the problem is you have to make up in volume.... With a subscription model, you don't have to worry about eventually tapping out of a source of revenue, but at the expense of maintaining/customer service of a subscription database on TOP of the rest of the network... plus the cost of using credit card transactions.... What still makes sense to me would be a yearly fee model... and it would be for additional content, not just removal of the ads, plus id still like the option to have PSA's added to my channel...