Topic: Payment/sub system


With 44000+ 'users', we should be able to get this going.

Assuming 1/3 will pay $10/yr for a subscription, thats $146,000/year.  More than enough for bandwidth and paying Duane.  This needs to be tweaked as many users have multiple devices..  So need some kind of 'site' or 'standalone' subscription.  I think the model should hover around $1/month/device or $3/month/site(up to 5 units).

I think there should be a subscription model.  People who do not subscribe see 2 channels, and all the internal, music, internet radio, etc, fetures.  The 2 channels being the clock/alarm system and a widget they can click to subscribe or opt out.

If they do subscribe, they get the subscription.  If they opt out, they will not see the widget to sub anymore and can using a web site.

After the service is up, and Duane knows bandwidth, etc, he can give a month of 'freeview' to all that do not subscribe, and see who does.

My $0.02

Re: Payment/sub system

That's a very well thought out plan.  I like the idea that there's the option for people to continue the free service should they want to and at the same time there's a tiered level of service for those who opt to pay.  I, for one, wouldn't mind paying for the "Site" plan to keep my two CCs and one CO happy.  That would also allow to pick up a C8 off eBay at some time in the future.

Re: Payment/sub system

Since running the service involves actual costs, the problem is that "free" means "Duane pays" or it's subsidized by the users that do pay.

Or someone sponsors the free service.

Or I show ads - lots and lots of ads.

Re: Payment/sub system

I could perhaps see at least the stub service being free, with expanded widget functionality being available to "subscribers".  Perhaps even throw in an extra widget or two (maybe weather), or offer the few extra widgets but embed ads in any additional channels for non-subscribers (so they appear between each widget in the channel, or something like that) -- effectively offering a "free" option and a "pay" option.

Re: Payment/sub system

But wouldn't having two separate servers increase the cost? Or would it be possible to just, for lack of a proper term, partition the server?

Re: Payment/sub system

Well I was figuring the server would simply decide, based on the device ID (and its associated account) whether a given device has access to X widgets and whether it should be ad-supplemented.

Re: Payment/sub system

Duane makes a good point that even a basic service can't just be free, because it will still cost money to run. Plus, most of the 40,000 probably will never read or responded to subscription offers. Practically every content provider now goes with the setup that free equals ads, paid equals no ads. But rather than "lots and lots" of ads, what about one subtle ad there the whole time, like "naming rights" for a stadium. The free channel would be a clock with a subtle or semi-transparent overlay of the of the sponsor's name over a small section of the clock. Like on the "bar clock" or neon clocks, instead of saying "Chumby" it would simply say "Intel" or whatever in a pleasant appropriate style. Advertisers could choose from several basic clock styles, or pay extra for a custom clock face designed by one of our talented volunteer graphic artists. They could have their ad clock up for hours or days or whatever, basically guaranteed lots of "impressions" because users will obviously be looking at the clock frequently. I think this would be much less annoying than the "interstitial" ads that blocked the screen info.

It could even be entertaining since the clock styles would rotate. If the sponsors get into it there could be some cool new custom clocks, for things like sports equipment, movies, travel, etc.

Sounds tacky, but there could be cheaper ads for times like an hour in the middle of the night or whenever big sponsors wouldn't pay, like those late-night tv commercials. There could even be amusing "vanity" ads like "marry me Susie" or "the offline firmware will set you free!" And no doubt there could be some times when an ad-free basic clock could be used.

And then there could be an occasional Chumby promo crawl across the bottom to subscribe and have the whole catalog of widgets available, ad free.

I'll stop this tangent now because it's the middle of the night here and this will probably sound silly in the morning.

Re: Payment/sub system

Duane wrote:

Since running the service involves actual costs, the problem is that "free" means "Duane pays"...

I have to admit, the "Duane pays" option sounds extremely appealing smile

But assuming that even Duane's resources are somewhat limited, I suspect the advertising option is much more realistic.

I have followed the evolution of Leo Laporte's TWIT network for several years, from the days when he said his salary would be paid entirely based on contributions, to abandoning that and now taking his income from TWIT's general revenues. Similarly, at least according to my local public radio station's announcements at fund raising time that less than 5% of listeners actually contribute anything.

As much as I would like to believe otherwise, I suspect it will be a very hard sell to actually get enough contributions to fully pay for the service, plus generate enough of a profit to justify Duane's time.

However, I have been very impressed by the growth of advertising in the podcast world and I suspect that there could be enough money in Chumby-based advertising. (Back in the olden days, about the only advertisers around were all tech oriented. That is definitely changing. For example, Audible now sponsors lots of podcasts produced by many different companies. Netflix also throws a lot of money into podcast advertising. On TWIT, over the holidays, there were jewelry advertisements. And within the last couple of weeks, an underwear supplier is now running ads. Seriously.)

It seems like a very large number of Chumby users use their Chumbys to access internet radio streams and podcasts.

If a better player than btplay could be incorporated to provide more features, such as a "Pause" function, as well as interstitial ads showing on the Chumby screen while streams are playing, there may be enough revenue to keep Blue Octy in business.

Perhaps if our Chumbys were repositioned as portals to Pandora or iHeartRadio, money from Pandora or Clear Channel would be available to support the Chumby administrative structure.

I understand that the bottom line is that even with the new server structure, there are still expenses that need to be covered by some revenue source. And as much as I might dislike it, advertising seems to be the most realistic way to get that revenue.

9 (edited by philhu 2013-03-01 07:10:11)

Re: Payment/sub system

Yes....ok, 2 widgets and advertising widgets

Clock, opt-in/sub and ad widgets

If you subscribe, then you do not see ad widgets

So a 'free' customer cannot change the widgets they see, a paid customer can see and change them.

I assumed that Duane can come up with bandwidth statistics and determine the monthly costs to run the service, albeit without redundancy, etc, until it is viable.

I also think we should 'put our money where our mouth is', and contribute $10 each right now, to get a payment fund up to speed, and then really see how many people really will contribute.  We might be off a factor af 10 or more here. People talk a good game, but when we have to pony up, they all dont answer their voicemail  smile

Having run an ISP in my basement for many years, starting on a shoestring and selling it out to Earthlink in 2007, I can appreciate the startup mode of things and would be glad to help on the marketing/business/finance side of things

10 (edited by sully9 2013-03-01 08:35:57)

Re: Payment/sub system

I get long-winded.  Sorry folks.  Won't blame you if you skim past.

As a long time (but silent) Chumby fan, I've been following developments on and off since the 'end' approached.  Gotta start by saying I truly appreciate all the time, effort and money the hardcore folks (esp Duane and the Dok) have put in, over the last year and especially the last 2 months.

Couple of thoughts.  First I respect Duane's comments early on about not wasting donations too early before a plan had been developed - a responsible call.  But I agree with philhu's last comment, maybe we need to gauge true level of commitment, be that by allowing donations or setting up a "pledge" system (which perhaps is barely better than us all saying "I'd pay").

Aside from that, I'd argue that Duane has already had to commit non-trivial time and money.  While I agree with ehertz, (I too like the personal financial benefits of "Duane pays") I would invite Duane to set up a donation mechanism that is nothing more than a tip jar.  No strings attached, no future expectation, just "thanks for your effort."  I'm *not* made of money, but I like to pay for things I value.  I can say thanks now and subscribe later.

All that said, I'd pay a monthly/yearly subscription to have functionality comparable to before.  I have two Chumbies in my house (with a 3rd in a box waiting to be plugged in, and a Sony Dash).  They have eyeballs on them perhaps only 10 minutes a day.  But I was sad at the prospect of their possible demise, and thrilled at the prospect of their possible continued life.  I like the idea of the Chumby.  In general, I don't often commit money to an idea, but this is an exception.

Done wrong ads are annoying, done right ads are fine.  Sometimes they even bring your attention to a product/service that's relevant.  I think many of us today understand that free usually means ad-supported.  Subscribers should have the option of turning off ads, or dialing them back.  But in some cases,  I might even let them stay.  My daughter would be unfazed by ads [unobtrusively placed] on the Chumby in her room.  As long as they weren't inappropriate, I'd be fine leaving them on with a paid subscription.

Finally, I don't want to get [more] off-track with discussion of what the future Chumby service should look like, but I think it should retain *an aspect* of the server-centralized approach but should be overhauled to drastically reduce how much and with what frequency the Chumbies phone home (in order to reduce costs) to get data that could be gotten elsewhere or stored locally.

Re: Payment/sub system

I was more or less joking about the ads.

The primary issue with ads is that the installed base really isn't high enough to attract advertisers.  The CPMs are so low now that I can't see making more a couple of bucks *total*.

For instance, the Android app (chumby Lite and chumby for Sony S1) include an ad unit - there are about 4300 active clients that have reauthorized since the switchover.  They've been running in the field for about two years now - and the total ad revenue generated was about $27.

One big issue with ads on Chumby devices is that they're very limited in possible click-through behaviors.  Most ads are designed to run as a banner, with a click-through to a new page.  Without a *full* browser with full media capabilities, this isn't really going to work for them.  That means you're stuck with pure branding-type ads with no direct call to action - which are rare.

We did run experimental ads in late 2011 - the users seemed pretty pissed off about them. One big problem is that we only had a couple of advertisers, so users got the same ads over and over again.

Content services like Pandora don't pay to be on any platform.

Re: Payment/sub system

The newest Control Panel are designed to have a very light load on the servers - the problem is that not everyone is running the latest stuff, and there are a lot of devices and other things that are hitting the systems that shouldn't be.

There's basically a constant 2Mbps "hum" of transactions to the current systems that are not due to the supported devices.

For instance, it appears that a *lot* of dashes are hitting these systems when they should be hitting Sony's.  Unfortunately, the subdomains they're hitting are also used by the current Control Panels, and the User Agent matches, so it's hard to filter them out. 

I will be issuing new Control Panels over the next week or so to move the music and content services to new individual subdomains and adding some basic challenge/response security to validate that these devices are *supposed* to be hitting these new subdomains, then shutting down the old subdomains.

There are also still some leechers that are hitting the servers for various things, and even 404'ing them costs resources - they will also get axed since it's unlikely they'll follow the subdomain migration.

Re: Payment/sub system

What about having the challenge/response system add offending IPs to a firewall table?  Perhaps after a third bogus hit, to avoid inadvertently blocking legit queries that just happened to bork their response.

Even if the inbound queries still rack up some b/w costs, you'd be reducing your outbound traffic because the server wouldn't respond at all to the bogus requests.

Re: Payment/sub system

I considered that, but I don't want to end up blocking devices in a "mixed" household - i.e. dashes *and* chumbys.

Being as *I'm* one of those households myself, that would be bad.

Re: Payment/sub system

+1 for the duane pays option
i like where this is going. lol.

Re: Payment/sub system

msharp42 wrote:

+1 for the duane pays option
i like where this is going. lol.

Not paying for you any more - BANNED.

Re: Payment/sub system

Duane wrote:

The newest Control Panel are designed to have a very light load on the servers - the problem is that not everyone is running the latest stuff, and there are a lot of devices and other things that are hitting the systems that shouldn't be.

Is there a definitive list of hostnames/domains that chumbies are hitting anywhere? i.e. those of us who are 'untethered' - are we really? are there any hosts we should be adding to our localhost redirect which would make the bandwidth bills go down?

Current hosts file: localhost.localdomain localhost

Re: Payment/sub system

Duane wrote:

Not paying for you any more - BANNED.


Brian, #1 Joan Jett Fan

Re: Payment/sub system

Currently used by devices:


Recently removed:


On the chopping block:


Live but not yet in use (will replace "content"):




All other subdomains are administrative, ex mail

Some of domains that no longer exist may be restored in the future.

Re: Payment/sub system

So new hosts file looks like (new entries + alpha sort): localhost.localdomain localhost

I'll take this for a spin later today. Thanks!

Re: Payment/sub system

Duane wrote:

We did run experimental ads in late 2011 - the users seemed pretty pissed off about them. One big problem is that we only had a couple of advertisers, so users got the same ads over and over again.

And I suppose another, lesser problem with ads would be that Chumbys were sold internationally.
I remember the 2011 ads, (actually I just remember an ad - there really weren't many of them) and they (it?) was an American ad for American audiences. The one I remember was selling car insurance but no matter how much I may have wanted the product (and I did - it was much cheaper than insurance is here) there was no way I could buy it.
American advertisers aren't going to want to count overseas devices as part of Chumby's advertising 'reach', thus further diminishing Chumby's already somewhat limited appeal to advertisers; and the Australian, Japanese and other overseas markets are going to be so small that even attempting to find country-specific advertisers for them would surely not be worth the trouble.

Re: Payment/sub system

Hi @ all,

first i would like to thank Duane for all the work that is done.

I am from Germany, Berlin and my english is not so good, please be kind.

I think that advertising is not a good way, specialy because the different countrys all over the world where the chumby is used. Also the revenue, as Duane explaind, is bad.

I would prefer the donate and/or monthly paid option. So for me its no problem to paid 10$ a Year. With some benefits (T-Shirt or so) i think 50$ are ok.

I like soma FM and they live some years with mergendising and donation, perhaps that would be fine for chumby to.

Please dont use ads, the world is full of them and they sucks. Keep the chumby clean

Re: Payment/sub system

Ihr Englisch ist besser als mein Deutsch!

Seriously though... input is always appreciated!  I don't know how far Duane has things mentally mapped out for Chumby or if he's still working to make sure the current system is fully functional before proceeding, but I'm sure all the user input you guys are giving is/will be useful in mapping out Chumby's future!

Re: Payment/sub system

Ihr Deutsch ist doch sehr gut, weiter so.

Optimizing the bandwith for the system would be the right way. I think Duane did it right.

So dont wait to long till you start the donation think. There are many people who would like to give, dont miss it.

Re: Payment/sub system

GOOD GRIEF! Set up subscriptions. How hard is that? DO IT.