GOOD GRIEF! Set up subscriptions. How hard is that? DO IT.
I certainly can't speak for Duane. But, I suspect the answer to your question is that it is not nearly as easy as it might look.
Some of the decisions I think would need to be made include:
- Do only people who pay for a subscription get the service?
- Do people get a "free trial" to decide if they like what they see before committing?
- Assuming non-payers get cutoff, how do you manage a database of 42,000 devices to assure that someone who pays gets the service and someone who does not gets no service?
- If a mistake is made, and I pay for my service but it does not get activated, who do I call or write to get that researched and fixed?
- If Blue Octy relies on a donation model, how do you bug people enough to generate the revenue needed? Will there be a pledge drive widget that shows up on my Chumby if I am a non-payer, but that gets removed quickly once I pay?
- How many people will be involved in the administrative aspects? Right now, I think it is just Duane. Someday, even he might like to take a vacation. What happens then?
- Assuming we have a mandatory payment system, what is the "right" price that generates enough revenue to keep the server running, plus generates enough of a profit to keep Duane and any other staff members interested, but still assures that Chumby owners don't say "no thanks" in high enough numbers that the revenue needed is not realized? Picking a price is crucial, since raising prices later could be very difficult. Just ask JC Penney about that.
- Do the subscriptions get sold by the device or by the household? Are they monthly, annual, or lifetime?
- If the Chumby service goes down, how does Duane protect his reputation. Over the past couple of years, there have been several server outages, most recently, I think, because of a problem at Amazon Web Services. Since the cost of the service up to now has been $0 per year, there was not much room to complain, even if some people did. But if the cost is higher than that, I assume at least some people will have a different expectation for the quality of service.
In other words, there are lots of small and large decisions that need to be made before turning on the subscription faucet. From what I have seen of Duane's conscientiousness over the last few years, he clearly is thinking about all of these issues and many more before taking that step.
For now, I am delighted that he has shown a commitment to keeping Chumbys alive, even in a somewhat diminished state. I am quite sure that over the next few months, he will roll out improvements as well as ways for those of us using our Chumbys to pay for the services required to support those improvements.