Tuesday, April 5, 2011

A reach for the stars starts with the clouds

over cloudcomputing gesproken ;)
"over cloudcomputing gesproken" from flickr.com
I am in the middle of some work, some studying and some trying to fix the latest batch of issues in Stoffi. The issues have forced me to rewrite large parts of the system that handles the filesystem. In the end this will result in a more natural way for you to manage your sources in Stoffi, it will be much more streamlined and "flowing". But it requires some work. So you will have to give me some more time for this one. But in the end, it will be worth it. We just need this last thing.

However, in the meantime I have been figuring out a plan on how to drive Stoffi from here: into the clouds...

Same Stoffi Everywhere!
I have always been in love with the feature of synchronizing your bookmarks in Chrome (a feature that has just now arrived in the new Firefox 4.0). Now I have figured out a place for the cloud in Stoffi! Think of a way to synchronize stuff like your playlists, queue and even history. The server (which I will name Yun, btw) will keep a copy of all the devices' combined data. Of course this will all be encrypted so neither we nor anyone else will be able to read your data.

When you start Stoffi on your desktop it will show the same data - playlists, bookmarks, settings, history, queue and even currently playing track (!) if you want to - as the Stoffi on your laptop. But, you may ask, how will Stoffi handle situations with two computers not having the same tracks? Well, since all tracks are synchronized the Stoffi on your desktop will only add those that it can find in the Library, the rest will be silently ignored.

Of couse, you will be able to choose how much you want to synchronize. And lastly, since everything will be encrypted inside Stoffi (the client) no one else but only you will be able to access this information. Privacy is a high priority!

Stoffi Comes To Life
Secondly, I have some plans on an even more distant future of Stoffi and how it will start to become self-subtaining.

As you all know Stoffi costs money for me and it takes a lot of time to work on. I don't want to charge for Stoffi, or put advertisement inside it. I am even skeptical to ads on the website. However, I think that with todays micro transactions in app stores it's possible to make Stoffi gain some money and paying for its bills without limiting the number of users that can enjoy Stoffi.

Remember those files that differed between the laptop and the desktop in the previous example? I think that Stoffi should be able to synchronize them as well! This has already been done with Lala and now Amazon has released Cloud Drive. I think that it's a great idea that Stoffi not only needs, but can make even better.

Lala got bought by Apple and have never been heard ever since, and Amazon doesn't have a music player as awesome as Stoffi, at least not yet. We are already better in that regard, but I think that we can beat Amazon in one more thing: price!

I have checked some of the upgrade options for the server we have, and I also checked the price for adding a second server just for storage. I've come up with in order for this service to pay for itself I will only need to charge about $5-6 for 10 gigabytes of data on the server. That's pretty cheap! It is half the price Amazon takes (they take one dollar per gigabyte). That means I can even give you the playlist/history/bookmarks/etc-sync for free, and you will only have to pay if you want to sync actual music.

I have some thought on using text messages (SMS) and PayPal for payment in order to make it as easy as possible.

Now, all this is just some plans floating around my head right now. But if I were ever to test something like this out I would start small, making this a sort of private beta thing where you need invites. This is because I want to know if people are interested in something like this. Otherwise it will just be an extra cost for no benefit.

Share The Love
But I hope that it could be a nice way for Stoffi to pay for itself. So now for the even more distant future: if this would ever become a hit and people love it, I will make sure that Stoffi only pays the server bills and enough to run itself. All extra cash we earned would be donated to charity!

Yeah, that's right. I already have a part time job so I have enough money to pay the bills and eat nice once a month along with the occasional weekend get-away with my girlfriend. All I need. I think that it would be nice to just give all extra "profit" away to those that need it the most instead.

That's why I imagine that if Stoffi would any day in the future become something big, then it would become a non-profit organization, combining charity and computer software - and not become a corporation, driven by profit and only money in mind. We could then focus on important issues such as making as many users as possible happy. We might even be able to make non-users happy by working with competitors instead of against. An example of that would be a fast way to move your data with you if you ever choose to leave Stoffi and go for something else. We want everyone to be happy.

So, that concludes some of my thoughts on the future of Stoffi when it comes to the clouds. If you have anything to add feel free to leave a comment.

I'll get back to the hacking now!