The other day Matt Anderson ran an article on smartroms.com, an ambitious project by a fed-up Rapidshare hating altruist who thought he had a solution to XDA-born ROM redistribution which involved multiple servers and other mechanisms of redundancy, a combined pipe of 1Gb/s and a couple banner ads to try to break even somehow. He has abandoned the project indefinitely due to severe hacking attacks and a miscalculation of what kind of revenue the ads would generate relative to his overhead, operating upon its debut at a 97% loss. I asked him for a comment and he gave me one.
This is dismaying not just to see this soldier fall, along with the promising services he was beginning to provide, but to see further evidence revealed that the only way to pull this off, handing out free filesharing for ~100MB roms, is to use Rapidshare’s tactics to squeeze money out of frustrated users as aggressively, invasively and annoyingly as possible.
Well, that and maybe running a torrent site tailored to the ROM addicts.
A few problems with that: People just like direct links more than torrents and for a lot of them, I imagine, even like them more if it’s at the expense of going through the Rapidshare motions (motions for some involving paying up for an account). Torrents take a while to warm up, perhaps at least a good several hours for enough seeders with liberal upload settings to appear before everyone can get decent download speeds. And often the seeders will disappear. Torrents require a torrent client and not everyone knows what that is or does but doesn’t want to install one for whatever reason (public computer, ISP policy).
Bittorrent is widely frowned upon because of its association with piracy, pornography and piracy of pornography so sites like XDA, which has had to walk on legal eggshells in the past, particularly with Microsoft, may decide they don’t want even links to torrents on outside servers posted on their forums. Some downloaders are wary of flashing something onto their phone that didn’t come from a single source but from hundreds. And many of those who would be inclined to fire up a torrent are very cheap with their upload caps to the point that it never builds up enough popularity to attract more popularity for both the individual torrents and for the entire thing to survive effectively, which maybe is why we still haven’t seen such a site emerge over the years.
That said, this man supplying a ROM-tailored torrent site with ratings and forums and whatever else he comes up with, that’s still a nice option for some to take advantage of. I’m just not expecting such a thing to take the place of Rapidshare links on XDA too widely. Because I’m generally too cheap to donate money I mirror roms for developers whose roms I’m using or have recently used. Right now I’m only doing that for two guys, a few Android Froyo roms, and today I’ve been averaging over 10Mbps (peaks of 90Mbps, 30Mbps at the moment). That’s just for a couple roms. To do it for hundreds as this man intended would saturate even an enormous pipe and doing it on that scale would attract all sorts of mischief to further complicate matters. Anyway, if you’re in a position to give your favorite developers some bandwidth, do it.