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Spare Change

As you probably know, we try to remind people as much as possible to support the developers and there’s good reason for it. The reason most of us use a Windows phone is because of the huge amount of tweaking and software available for our phones and it’s all at our fingertips. But we can’t forget that a lot of this is not the result of large corporations- it’s regular individuals who are devoting their spare time for the sake of the community. And as good hearted as they are, the sheer amount of time and in fact out of pocket expenses (between web hosting and third party paid software) often puts them in a deficit…especially when you think about the time devotion in particular. Recently I asked some of the developers that we’ve highlighted about the level of donations that they receive relative to their costs and I was shocked. The best of the group received about one tenth of one penny for every download but the average is closer to one one-hundreth of a penny per download. Think about that…it means that for every 10,000 downloads they receive $1. It’s staggering. A lot of this has to do with free riders – the developers make great apps and everyone assumes that someone else contributing or that they don’t need to contribute since others will. The problem is that almost everyone is in this group and donations are few and far between. Let’s talk specifics though.

Raise your hand if you’ve used a theme from Mobile Matt – like FuzeBerry. It was wildly popular. Check out Matt’s websites now and you’ll see that he’s given up the domains. The reason is simple. The costs of hosting exceeded the donations to the point where it made no sense to continue a site. Of course, we’re working to give Matt a dedicated page and hosting on our site (and our forums are now his current residence until we can make him shinier accommodations) but we need to all think about the spread between downloads and donations and how vast it is.

It doesn’t begin or end with Matt though. I’ve had the same conversation with other developers. Herm ( has moved to a mix of paid apps and free apps. Of course, the free apps are just that – they are downloaded and very very rarely lead to donations. Again, Herm is just an individual who is kind enough to develop for the community but he’s been forced to do paid apps to cover his costs. Herm has freebies that include Magic 8 Ball, Peggle, Dog Whistle…well he’s up to 20 apps now half of which are free. I think Doug Simmon of and put it best when commenting on Herm’s latest release:

Hey, to all you people who’ve never paid for software, here’s a good opportunity to see what it’s like. Herm is brilliantly creative and if you click the link to his site in the article you’ll see what kind of fun stuff he’s come up with. You’ll also see that his prices are not only reasonable but dirt cheap. If you’d like you can try a few of his free limited versions of some of his programs and then once you’re convinced that laying down $1.29, less than a load of laundry, on something like AudioMeter or DogWhistle, is worth satisfying the intrigue you may have. Then you’ll get a warm feeling for doing the right thing and score a few points with God to offset all those torrents you downloaded.

Well put Doug. The same argument can be made for Bbonzz who provided Mobi O’Lantern, Pocket Coffee Mobile, Ring ‘n Run, Walk of Fake, PocketNoise and Fake Badge. He’s been releasing free ‘lite’ apps and providing the full version for a mere $.99. The reason is simple – without charging he was able to count his donations on one hand.

Of course, these are all just examples. The same arguments can be made for Herg who has ported just about everything to our phones (as well as cooking the ROMs they run on) who has started a ‘donators only’ line of ROMs. This was required of the person that ported (often as part of a group) numerous Opera builds, footprints, Xperia panels, HTC album builds, and the latest HTC keyboards to name a few, because of an utter lack of donations. And we also can’t leave out the Olinex team who provide the unlockers for our phones…who without there wouldn’t be flashing at all.

So why the long intro? Simply put, if things continue the way they are then we’ll all have a lot less developers, a lot less apps and a lot less fun. This is a simple plea to the community. It just takes a dollar here and there from each of you (yes, each and every one of you) to support the developers and chefs out there who have provided to you the tools and apps to make your phone what it is today. Remember, a cup of Starbuck’s coffee is over $2 and I’m sure many of you buy a few a day so parting with a dollar here and there shouldn’t be a bank breaker. That cup of coffee lasts all of a half hour while the apps, ROMs and games provide countless entertainment…I ask that you put these in perspective and support the developers in our forums and on XDA.