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2015/01/30

Parable of the Thing

There is a Thing. It doesn't really matter what it does. The Thing does a thing, and that thing can be useful. Or at least amusing.

Unlike certain Things, I like this Thing. The idea for the Thing came from a man who wanted a Thing for himself, and who wanted to sell the Thing. He was thinking of a freemium model, where you get the free version on the App Store (he was thinking an iThing, not an Android Thing, but a mobile Thing not a web thing) and pay a buck or so for more Thingyness in your life.

Who wouldn't want a Thing, right?

I hadn't played with this Thing before, and was apprehensive at first, but as soon as I worked out how to talk to the Thing, I found it very useful, developing two separate uses almost immediately. Because free access to the Thing is how we attract an audience, that's not a problem. For my uses, tying a Thing to a Widget or Sneech does everything I need it to, and so I say "Thing, do your thing" on occasion, and Thing and I are happy.

But, for the man to get his Thing going for the whole world, there are some requirements.

Having the Thing do his thing on a phone, waking up every few minutes and saying "Fellas, I'm ready to get up and do my thing", getting into it, and then going back is very wasteful of the phone's resources. It's almost as if it's only purpose is to suck the battery of the phone, which is not a thing a Thing is intended to do.

And/or, I am not an iPhone developer. I don't have iGear. I don't know an iPhone developer, at least none who are willing to work within the Thing's budget. Take your pick.

So, we stand up a server. Which takes money. Perhaps not a lot of money, but eventually, money.

Then, the app part of the Thing is simply "Thing, this is what you do." This might happen once in the lifetime of the user-Thing relationship, if the user knows what the Thing needs to do. So, that's one show of an ad. So that's not a moneymaker.

Then, as it's on the server, we need to tell the user the Thing did his thing. With Twilio and SMS, the choice that forces the least use of other services, we're at, roughly  3/4 of a penny for every SMS. This is small, but this is a charge every time the Thing does his thing, so we're losing money every time the Thing moves for free people, and for the paying customers, after Things 133 times, it's all cost.

So, I like this Thing and I'll use this Thing, but it won't show up on a phone near you. But I might put the code up on GitHub sometime, so there's that.