I like the way you think.
I think the first order of business should be to ensure the costs stay under control to ensure there is future at all. This means sticking with what exists as much as possible until more resources are available. For instance, Flash might be unpopular(judging from posts on this forum) but porting everything to something would be labour intensive while not benefiting the majority of users.
Yes, establishing existing services is priority #1. After you get a healthy Chumby then you can talk about a Chumby 2.0.
To reduce bandwidth and processing costs it would seem worthwhile to consider a tiered architecture. The root of the system would remain the central server owned and operated by Blue Octy LLC. Below that would be caching proxy servers that could be run by community members in either a public or private manner. For example if someone had spare bandwidth/CPU capacity that could be donated by accepting to cache and proxy part of the traffic destined for the central server. If run in a private manner it would help to reduce load by having a single host contacting the central server instead of all the devices on the premises(most folks here seem to have multiple devices).
Sounds like seti@home ( http://setiathome.berkeley.edu/ ).
I am speaking without "deep knowledge" of the setup, but would it make sense to bring the lowest bandwidth services on-line first? Kind of like going after the low-hanging fruit, but in this case the low-costing fruit. Maybe throttle the high-bandwidth services.
On the financial side, I am skeptical of the chances of advertising of making any significant contribution. Subscriptions seem acceptable and probably the only reasonable option in the beginning. The long term hope would of course be to get the platform to a point where the sale of service to device manufacturers becomes possible but that is unfortunately a long way away.
What is the number of worldwide users? I look at this quote from Duane :
chumbysphere forum -> Chumby.com -> End of Chumby as we know it... -> Post #10
If I build a replacement system, it will not cost $5K/month. My guess it will be in the low hundreds - my goal is under $200/month.
What you're seeing with the current system is a "professional" system, with full analytics, the complete build system, monitoring, backups, the whole source control history back to day one, system logs, internal files and documents, etc even though in some cases the servers that server this stuff have been shut down.
At $4400/month, with 40K active units in the field, it's actually only $0.11 per unit per month, which is pretty low.
Assuming 100% support from the user base :
($200*12 months) / 40,000 users => $0.06 dollars per year.
Now, let's assume 10% support from the user base and twice the monthly cost :
($400*12 months) / 4,000 users => $1.20 dollars per year
Now, that's still ridiculously low. For that price I think we could easily get the "true believers" to shell out $10 or more per year.
(Pessimistic?) Question: How many unique people are posting on this forum since chumby went into "limp mode"? That is the initial donation base.
Thank you for all your efforts Duane and Doktor Jones !