Topic: "Business Case" Discussion

I saw this posted by Duane in another thread:

It's quite possible that Sony has destroyed enough of the potential user base of chumby-enabled dash devices to significantly alter the business case for supporting them.

Luckily there's been an "unbrick" process for the Dash units, but it made me wonder - what is the "break even" point for Chumby in terms of supporting the Dash units on a subscription? 50 users @$3 each? 150? 500?

I have no idea what their monthly numbers are now, and don't expect to get that info. But I'd be curious (if they will indulge) what a "good" number of subscriptions would be that would make the work worth it.

Re: "Business Case" Discussion

We don't really know yet.  Certainly, being able to unbrick devices has been helpful however, I'm sure a lot of folks have simply disconnected the devices and either threw them away or stuck them in the closet and not bothered to try to find out whether anything can be done about it.  On the other hand, the bricking may have woken up a lot of people about the termination of the service and some of the more fanatical dash users have found us.

The real issue will be how many dash users would just use the device in an unsubscribed state vs those that choose to subscribe.  I'm hearing a lot of folks say they just use the device for weather and alarm clock, and maybe music, and at this point, those offerings are likely to be entirely free, since our policy to date has been to only charge for access to the widgets.

Weather support, of the quality the dash has historically supported in the themes, does have recurring monthly costs associated with it.

So, if we end up with thousands of dash users just using the free tier, and very few subscribers, that will be an issue, and I may be forced to make changes to the way stuff is paid for.  While it may sometimes appear to be the case, I'm not a charity - we're still here after all these years and able to do what we're doing for the dash because we are treating this like a business.  It's also not fair for the chumby subscribers to subsidize the dash community.

Once thing that appears to be different between the chumby and dash ecosystem is that it seems there are many people with multiple dashes, which under the current scheme would all fall under the same subscription.  It's one thing to have a two or three devices, another to have six or seven.

In the chumby world, we have both subscribed and unsubscribed users that make donations above and beyond what they're asked to do.  I even have some folks that have multiple subscriptions they don't use, because that's the value they have in their mind about the service we offer.  It remains to be seen whether that will be the case with the dash community.  I don't think we can even speculate at this point, since they still going through the shock of the systems being turned off.  The chumby folks had a different experience, because I was there through the whole process to let them know exactly what was going to happen, why and when.

Right now, we're concentrating entirely on the technical aspects of saving the ecosystem - without that, the rest of the discussion is moot.

Re: "Business Case" Discussion

It could have been a great thing for everyone if Sony would have been willing to hand off the Dash in such a condition that the users could easily be handed off to another entity that would be willing to keep the units going. It would have been a win-win-win situation. As such, some Dash users will probably abort the units. Wish the message could get out to ALL the Dashers that help is on the way. It seems that there have been a LOT of interest stirred up about the Chum/Dash fix. It has been a dominant topic in recent times.

Owner of 7 Chumby type units. 3 Sony Dash, 2 Info 8, 2 Info 3.5, and 1 C1.

Re: "Business Case" Discussion

I imagine the Dash rescue efforts are more of a labor of love than a financial investment.  Inviting disowned Dash owners into the Chumby community is a boon for the Chumby name, even if it doesn't turn a profit.

Re: "Business Case" Discussion

I wonder how long even the more fanatical Dash users will uphold curiosity and keep checking for news on this site.
I suppose after 2 weeks or so the first will start to loose interest.
Hopefully good news arrive before that happens.

Re: "Business Case" Discussion

Mr. Neato wrote:

I imagine the Dash rescue efforts are more of a labor of love than a financial investment.  Inviting disowned Dash owners into the Chumby community is a boon for the Chumby name, even if it doesn't turn a profit.

I am sure it is a labor of love, but it is also a business. I doubt any of us expect Duane to lose money on either the Chumby group or the Dash group. He isn't going to get rich either. I personally hope he is making a decent profit. It will help ensure he keeps the service going for the foreseeable future. It will also allow him to offer things like access to better weather information (which isn't free to him), or expanded music choices (possible?). If there were enough subscribers we might even be able to look forward to NEW Chumby devices. I guy can dream, can't he?

Tar, feathers, congress. Some assembly required.

Re: "Business Case" Discussion

alaric11 wrote:

I wonder how long even the more fanatical Dash users will uphold curiosity and keep checking for news on this site.
I suppose after 2 weeks or so the first will start to loose interest.
Hopefully good news arrive before that happens.

Considering the laughably bad reliability of Sony's servers and the months of no service at all that anyone who still has a Dash has had to contend with over the last couple of years, a few weeks is nothing...

Re: "Business Case" Discussion

alaric11 wrote:

I wonder how long even the more fanatical Dash users will uphold curiosity and keep checking for news on this site.
I suppose after 2 weeks or so the first will start to loose interest.
Hopefully good news arrive before that happens.

Yes, that's a risk - it would've been nice if I hadn't had to drop everything and spend a couple of days figuring out how to unbrick the devices.

Re: "Business Case" Discussion

alaric11 wrote:

I wonder how long even the more fanatical Dash users will uphold curiosity and keep checking for news on this site.
I suppose after 2 weeks or so the first will start to loose interest.
Hopefully good news arrive before that happens.

I'm curious as to what you would consider "good news".

Duane has already released an unbrick file that's resurrected the bricked Dashes... and did that very quickly after the brickening.

There's an active beta in progress to chumbyfy the Dashes, so that they can talk to our servers, which have had maybe a couple of hours of downtime in the last three years.

There's someone that cares about keeping the Dashes working.

If I were a dash user, I think I'd consider all that to be quite good news.

Cleaning up any loose bits and bytes.

10 (edited by dashedhopes 2017-07-20 13:59:48)

Re: "Business Case" Discussion

One of the features that differentiated the Dash from the original Chumby service (IIRC) was that the latter served some ads as a revenue source - now the differentiation for a Dasher has moved to having a relatively sophisticated Alarm Clock vs one rich with info/entertainment widgets. 

I suspect that there will be a certain user base that will be content to have the sophisticated Alarm Clock & live without the widgets - however, perhaps a bundled basic weather widget could be used to serve a (hopefully not too intrusive/annoying) ad, or to nudge the user to user sign up for the full widget experience.

Re: "Business Case" Discussion

The chumby only showed ads for a very brief time, and they didn't generate any material revenue.

In many ways, the dash had more "ads" - they were just presented as themes and widgets promoting various Sony properties and partners such as TV shows and musicians.  I don't have any information about how many people used them, however, many of them were included in default channels, and I suspect many people never changed them.

12 (edited by dashedhopes 2017-07-20 14:50:00)

Re: "Business Case" Discussion

Duane wrote:

The chumby only showed ads for a very brief time, and they didn't generate any material revenue.

In many ways, the dash had more "ads" - they were just presented as themes and widgets promoting various Sony properties and partners such as TV shows and musicians.  I don't have any information about how many people used them, however, many of them were included in default channels, and I suspect many people never changed them.

Interesting, I don't remember much in the way of ads, though I guess something like a news service widget is in itself an ad for that news service & may be used to push 'promoted' stories. It's been so long since first set the thing up, that I can't remember what, if any, widgets were included in the default channel. I did create a new channel last year & I don't recollect that having much in the way of default widgets (though this was long after Sony had lost any real interest in the service - I was mainly using it to test which widgets were still functioning..).

Re: "Business Case" Discussion

They had "Dr. Oz", "John Mayer", "Alicia Keys" and "Playstation" themes, Jeopardy and Martha Stewart widgets, etc.  Those were basically thinly disguised ads - at least, that's what Sony considered them to be.

Re: "Business Case" Discussion

Duane wrote:

They had "Dr. Oz", "John Mayer", "Alicia Keys" and "Playstation" themes, Jeopardy and Martha Stewart widgets, etc.  Those were basically thinly disguised ads - at least, that's what Sony considered them to be.

Ah! Yes, that's probably why my attention never stayed on them long enough to consider installing - I'm pretty sure they weren't defaults, at least not when I was setting up channels - removing something like a Dr Oz widget would left the same kind of nasty aftertaste that I got deleting all those spammy emails of a few years back, purporting to be his latest words of weight loss wisdom...

Either way, if you have control of the control panel, it still may be worth using something like a very basic weather widget to promote subs to get all the other stuff a user might have gotten used to having around.

Re: "Business Case" Discussion

dashedhopes wrote:

Either way, if you have control of the control panel, it still may be worth using something like a very basic weather widget to promote subs to get all the other stuff a user might have gotten used to having around.

Have you looked at the "Success!" thread?

Cleaning up any loose bits and bytes.

Re: "Business Case" Discussion

I have a single Dash and would be willing to spend $3 a month to restore the widgits, because it completed the Dash and are part of the fun of having it. I like the rotating information. I hope more people with them also feel the same. I have it now limping along, and want my Dash to return to its former glory.

I will say, perhaps a low $5 annual fee for clock and weather, for dash owners, with a $1 addition per additional unit, and perhaps limit monthly to 3 units with additional running $1 a month more.

Re: "Business Case" Discussion

Ok, here are my thoughts on Dash subscriptions and fees.  We purchased our Dash units from Sony without needing a subscription.  Sony decided to give up on the Dash units, which leaves us with at best a very simple alarm clock.

We need to move forward and find a way to support Duane and the Blue Octy staff so that it makes financial sense for them to add support for the Dash.  Just start thinking of them as Chumby-Dash units.

I like the idea of having the option of operating the Dash without a full subscription and I would be willing to pay a smaller amount for this basic option.   I had planned to try out the new software from Duane and make a donation, if I did not commit to a full subscription.

Re: "Business Case" Discussion

das335 wrote:

if I did not commit to a full subscription.

Currently, the subscriptions are month to month, no commitment needed smile

Cleaning up any loose bits and bytes.

Re: "Business Case" Discussion

I find it rather sad that people balk at $3/mo to keep these going with more features than Sony ever offered.

* shakes head *

Just buy one less coffee drink per month.

20 (edited by dashedhopes 2017-07-21 00:32:55)

Re: "Business Case" Discussion

diamaunt wrote:
dashedhopes wrote:

Either way, if you have control of the control panel, it still may be worth using something like a very basic weather widget to promote subs to get all the other stuff a user might have gotten used to having around.

Have you looked at the "Success!" thread?

Yes, but not recently enough to have seen the latest youtube post of the updated control panel - looks quite shiny smile

niblet2000 wrote:

I find it rather sad that people balk at $3/mo to keep these going with more features than Sony ever offered.

* shakes head *

Just buy one less coffee drink per month.

I don't think anyone has balked, at least not in this thread, yet - I merely suggested a way to possibly promote subs to a new audience, whilst the thread itself discusses the not unreasonable supposition that there will almost certainly be some portion of users who'll likely stay on a sub-less service. It'll be interesting to see how the service is taken up once it goes live to Dashers & how word gets around.

I've no idea what proportion of Dash users are enthusiasts vs casual bedside alarm users. I've no numbers to back it up, but the Chumbys were always a more open ecosystem for folks who like to tweak things, whereas the Dash was a much more locked down environment.

21 (edited by BoloMKXXVIII 2017-07-21 03:39:55)

Re: "Business Case" Discussion

Speaking generally, the biggest hurdle in most subscription models is getting people to subscribe in the first place. Once they subscribe, people tend to stay subscribed. Comcast knows this and uses it to slowly raise customer's rates to outrageous levels. If Duane were to offer a "skinny" subscription it is doubtful it would substantially increase subscribers, it would just reduce the number of people subscribing at the "full" $3 rate. Not to mention, having to maintain a system with 3 different classes: non-paying, skinny, and full. Oh, and some current Chumby subscribers would be upset that they have been paying $3 and now the Dash users get an opportunity to only pay $1 for a subset of the service. I think Duane is wise and will stick with the service as he has it set up.

Tar, feathers, congress. Some assembly required.

Re: "Business Case" Discussion

For my situation personally, while I do only use the Dash as an alarm and for weather, I fully anticipate subscribing at $3/month to support the efforts of the Chumby community to keep the Dash alive. I can't imagine the magnitude of the work that is going on behind the scenes to keep these devices functional, and it's more than a certain other company has done to help the Dash community.

I think many in the community, at times myself included, are still on the "dealing with Sony customer support" setting.

In the meantime, I think I need more Chumby stickers...

Re: "Business Case" Discussion

There seems to be a small spike in Dash ebay auctions.  Some of the sellers declare that the Sony Dash is not going to work passed July 2017. I messaged several of them and directed them to the Dash posts on this site. There seems to be people who are bailing on the Dash because they don't know there is something that can fix them. I got one very surprised seller to respond with:
"Really?? Details please! Can't live without it haha"

Owner of 7 Chumby type units. 3 Sony Dash, 2 Info 8, 2 Info 3.5, and 1 C1.

Re: "Business Case" Discussion

dashedhopes wrote:

. I've no numbers to back it up, but the Chumbys were always a more open ecosystem for folks who like to tweak things, whereas the Dash was a much more locked down environment.

And we're prying it open.

The chumdash has the hidden "pi" screen, with the 'turn on SSHD" button, for instance (the wiki has been updated to reflect that).

Cleaning up any loose bits and bytes.

Re: "Business Case" Discussion

I did not realize your basic service was free, but regardless, I will subscribe to support your work and thank you for your efforts. I would bet most will do the same. I certainly hope so. Small price to pay to keep these beauties working.