Doing it alone – the what, the how, and the why

doing it alone can be frustrating

It’s not a big secret: At Androidacy, we like doing it alone and by ourselves. By “it”, I mean the hosting, development, paying for things. All of that it takes to provide great user experiences across platforms and globaly. We get asked a lot, why not just use <insert free service>? I’d like to take a moment to address that, but first, let’s take a deep dive into what it takes to do it ourselves, as a small team spread out across the globe.

The what of doing it alone

All of our infrastructure, servers, and most of our software is developed or owned in-house. That means we own and/or rent all of our hardware and maintain it ourselves. While we do use a good amount of open-source software, we develop most of our software in-house as well. A huge shout-out to the system admins we have that tirelessly keep our servers running, and keep us at that 99.7% uptime or better!

doing it alone is great until this happens

The thing is – those things aren’t free. No, really, They’re not. Shocking, I’m sure.

Our infrastructure – before paying our staff (they have bills to pay and mouths to feed, too!) – costs us tens of thousands of dollars a year. We foot the bill ourselves, though. We depend on revenue streams such as website advertising, subscriptions, and affiliate programs – that way we don’t have to paywall our experiences and apps (note: ad-free is a premium subscription, as well as removing download restrictions). That cost is worthwhile to us because it offers us much greater flexibility and control of the end experience. It’s better than depending on third party providers and hoping for the best. But more on that later.

Our development and moderator teams are working sometimes around the clock to ensure our users have a fluid experience with the support they need, all while keeping things neat and tidy. They are the unsung heroes of the whole operation. Thanks for all you do, and especially to the unnamed cool grandma we all love ❤️.

The how and the money

How are we doing it alone, though? With a global audience of 14 million monthly active users (estimated), it’s not easy.

Advertising covers the bulk of our revenue, and most if not all of the money we make through programs such as AdSense and Ezoic gets directly spent on server, hosting, and bandwidth costs. The majority of the rest comes from our subscriptions available both in-house and through Patreon. That revenue gets spent on paying our staff, and hardware upgrades as necessary, as well as the paid software we utilize.

We don’t take home profits, and for the forseeable future, have no plans to. At Androidacy, we reinvest any remaining revenue directly in the community. We do this through direct contributions to developers. There’s our Magisk Modules Revenue Sharing program, our Community Support program. We also send donations to people and organizations that we find worthwhile. To date, we’ve given over $7k since the start of 2022, and hope to increase that amount, revenue permitting.

The rest is up to our amazing volunteers, and our paid system administrator and development staff. We are also testing out a whole new website redesign and working on the updates to WebView Manager and Font Manager.

The big one: the why of doing it alone

Why do we do it alone, though? Can’t we just piggyback on GitHub or similar?

doing it alone - NOT on github

One big reason is GitHub and similar sites do not have a clear policy on borderline using them as a CDN, meaning we could get in trouble or hit rate limiting by directly serving our content or other’s content from them. In addition, these services are not accessible in some countries, and offer a poor experience in others.

Another big reason for doing it alone is our lack of control and customization when we rely on rigid third party services. Take GitHub for instance, as we get at least weekly a suggestion we “just use GitHub”. GitHub is great – for hosting code. We use and pay for GitHub services a lot when it comes to code. When it comes to serving content – the experience is awful. The API is not fun to work with in shell scripting (what we’d be limited to on an Android device). The speed of downloads is sometimes awful to the tune of 80kb/s (that’s 80 kilobits per second, folks). The third party files go through no level of verification and could easily be tampered with.

By creating and hosting our own services, we are able to offer a better experience in most cases, even if we have to show a few ads and upsell a subscription or two to make it possible. We are able to provide security, privacy, performance, and user experience benefits we could not do any other way.

Closing words

I’d like to take a moment to address the spotty experiences and advertising complaints we’ve been receiving. We are working closely with our advertising partners to ensure any and all advertising on our website is non-disruptive, safe, and provides a good user experience. We are also looking into reducing some ads in key areas without affecting revenue. In addition, we also almost doubled our server capacity to ensure we are able to handle load spikes, and we’ve added more capacity to key underserved regions, which will enable us to continue doing it alone without sacrificing usability.

We are always open to and listening for your feedback – if you haven’t already, take the survey linked at the bottom. Join our Telegram to hang out or get help. Even if we don’t respond, we read everything (except the spam – who asked about the home insurance anyway!)

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