Premium Services


#9

I can sound harsh, but I’ve seen myself involved on other open source projects which creators had to lower the blind, and their product became a paperweight. As a community, we should think what is better for Mycroft, and think how it can survive the own company/team who developed it…

To the Mycroft team, I would advise to focus into the IA rather than Mycroft itself. Mycroft can be the tool to improve your IA and create future commercial products. As someone said before, there are plenty of market niches where an AI can be used. The Mycroft community would improve the AI for free so after some time, you can design another product and make profit from it.

For the community, as I said, we must think how to survive all the possible misfortunes that can happen to the Mycroft team, so we should be creatives and think how to lower costs for everything. The perfect solution would be find the way to reduce the costs of all the project to zero: this site’s cost by finding a sponsor, decentralizing the cloud the most we can, etc

I also prefer to run my own services rather than pay for cloud services. There is no better privacy than run your own services yourself. And I suggested to run the STT engines locally. Said that, it would be great, to syncronize somehow the improvements of our Mycroft or the Mycroft team improvements with the others so, under my point of view, there are two approaches, P2P or a centralized server.

A centralized server can seems better, but it is very expensive so P2P would reduce dramatically the costs, we all would contribute with bandwidth and the Mycroft team should only take care of the “central brain” which would provide the new features and would be propagated through a P2P network.

Centralizing the services would also centralize the risks if something happens to Mycroft team. So I would recommend to avoid that model.

For the premium services. I think “core” Mycroft should have all the features. The 752 backers on kickstarter helped mycroft to see the light, but cannot maintain the project forever.

I would rather pay for selected apps. The Mycroft team could create a mycroft store where developers could sell their apps (if they would want), and Mycroft team take a percentage of the sale. If Mycroft team developes more AI products, that store could be “compatible” with their future products. In this way, community can help Mycroft team by enriching the product (and possible future products).

I say with all this, that community should be part of the mycroft product, we are pioneers and we should be somehow “special” for the mycroft team. We helped economically on the kickstarter campaing and will help by contributing in the future, and perhaps a few coins a year in interesting apps or hardware improvements, but surely we will not spend money as a basis.

The Mycroft team is the leader of the community, they are the valiants and the heroes, and I’m sure they will have some great ideas to take profit of the community improvements and develop more IA products in the future.


#10

@krisadair I also like the idea of a store. If you can find a way to bundle each of the services as individual snap packages, then you could sell them in a branded snappy store. I guess that this would include subscriptions to certain services. This approach would be of far greater interest to me, as I live in the UK and I can’t see myself wanting to listen to the NPR news feed.


#11

I wanted a Amazon Echo but I resisted buying one because I’d like to try MyCroft instead - which I’m super excited about. The Echo doesn’t have a monthly subscription fee so I feel MyCroft can’t either, otherwise it’ll put off the mainstream folks who don’t value open-source as much as the initial adopters.

What about seeing how much the infrastructure costs you (hosting, bandwidth, etc), then publish the amount transparently, then tell everyone, “we need to raise X to keep us going Y months”. Then the community can pony up to keep MyCroft going until the next donation period. I think this is how Wikipedia goes about it.


#12
  • easy to integrate “self-hosted” trainer on person’s smart device would be ginormous for us at www.cavalcade.in and would gladly share revenues and anonymous patterns back to the community.

#13

Open Source doesn’t mean not paying. I’m happy for anything that needs to to have fees, so long as all of the code and data is under a libre license and is made available at least to paying customers.

In your case, however, you might consider something more Patreon-style and get the community that loves your services to help cover your costs, etc.


#14

I see 3 ways to finance an open-source project (they can coexist) :

  • With a shop (or store, it’s the same) - where you can sell some items like : t-shirts, mugs, mod for Mycroft unit, hardware and “Skills” (developed by Mycroft team and the community).

  • With donation - as @tomfotherby said, publish the infrastructure costs to reach each month could be a good idea.

  • With a premium account - for adding easily into Mycroft core some new “Skills” for “free” or have some early access.

The premium account will be used by 2 types of user : basic user who doesn’t want to learn how to develop “Skills” and want to add all “Skills” he desires developed by the community and community user who want to support the Mycroft team and have an early access.

All community members who took part in the development of the code and/or the “Skills” should have access to others “Skills” for free.

Like that, we respect users, community members and Mycroft team :wink:


#15

Open source doesn’t always mean open accounting, but this seems like an opportunity to document your costs and to ask the community to pay up.

Seriously, a once-a-month or once-a-year reminder to people who do not have support subscriptions might be for mycroft to play a very short “go to mycroft home page to see our financials and contribute to keeping the servers on the air.”


#16

I’d definitely pay for premium voices, or a service/software to convert my own voice into a premium voice.


#17

Getting access to premium famous voices coming from films/TV shows would be awesome !

I obviously have Star Wars in mind :smile: And you ? Which famous voice would you speak with ? :slight_smile:


#18

Handsfree voip should be a source of income, as explained on this topic:


#19

So many fantastic ideas! That is why we asked. Feel free to continue to weigh in. We want to be able to continue supporting full-time developers to work on the project. We feel that in a world where there are so many resources going into similar technologies that’s sole purpose is to mine your data and sell you stuff, that it is imperative that a project like this exists.


#20

I would prefer the option of self hosting of any server requirements (on my network) to allow for use when an external network is not available or network speed is limited or high latency links are involved.

If this would require additional funding then I would probably back such an a project provided that the resulting software was available under a suitable open-source license.

Additional premium voices would be an option that I would be prepared to pay for on a one off license fee…

After recent experiences with a Pebble watch app which ceased working when the creator withdrew the web service on which it relied. This makes me wary of any application which depends on network connections and external servers to function.

If ‘Perfect Privacy’ is a premium service then how private is the existing information that is sent by Mycroft to the cloud (Log Files etc) ?


#21

I should first point out that I’m not a backer. I would be interested, but I’m not just not sold yet. Perhaps if you offered the following I could both pre-order and pay for premium services:

  • Pay a one-time (or recurring for major new updates) fee to self-host Mycroft on my own hardware. A Raspberry Pi is great and extendable, but it’s under-powered and there’s certainly much more powerful hardware out there. Not only that, imagine installing Mycroft on a robot? I can imagine sitting on the sofa and yelling out, “Mycroft! Can you be a good chap and bring me a spot of tea? I’m feeling a little peckish.”

  • One-time “activation fee” to self-host on my own network. No need for Mycroft to connect to the outside internet. Especially useful if you live in an area with frequent power outages or otherwise disaster prone area, or, you happen to be a poor soul with no broadband internet access.

  • Paid App Store in which you get a cut of the fees to support Mycroft (all apps vetted to work with the current version – take a look at Amahi Home Server).

  • Have the premium option to send Mycroft “to school”. Pay for a semester, or per year, to upgrade his capabilities or add premium voices, but do it in such a way that you could consider Mycroft as part of your family… “Mycroft, how was school today? What did you learn?”


#22

How about signing some kind of deal with contentproviders like Spotify, Netflix, etc.

The idea being that you come to an agreement with, say, Spotify to let users buy monthly access for £10 a month, but you get £1 and they get £9. They might go for it as they would be getting a user they otherwise wouldn’t and get free advertising in your store, etc. Meanwhile you’d get a new revenue stream


#23

You should keep in mind that most of your customer will not be the type of guys hacking the pi themselves. Surely the first customers will be technique geeks who are familiar with getting their hands dirty and create skills themselves. As you want to create a product for everyone most of them do not want to do this or are not able to do this, like myself.

Having that said you should sell convenience to your customers. I like the idea of a cooperation with spotify or something like that and the idea of having a store in which those who are able to create skills can contribute their products. A model which is based on hosting servers or anything like that will not be appropriate for most of the people. Further more I do not recommend having a business model which is based on selling more or less privacy. I think privacy is one of if not THE key feature you have as the privacy protection can be audited by everyone independently. As for me this is the main reason to even consider having such a device at all. So stay focused on that.

I think it is more interesting to everyone to get new features easily, be able to propose new features they would like to have, have you guys as the coordinator and manager to all this and have a good customer support. I think paying for this a small mothly fee is nothing someone will complain about. At least, this would be an additional value I would be willing to pay for.


#24

I (a consumer) would gladly pay a one-time payment (even if it’s relatively high) to get some extra features/access to beta software. But unless you can provide something absolutely amazing, I will definitely not pay a certain amount of money per month to have access to a certain service.

Just thought it might be helpful for you to have some customer input…


#25

I would focus on the healthcare sector: hospitals, home assistance services, etc
The hotel sector could also be very interesting.
The possibilities are endless :slight_smile:


#26
I can only think of things that I would be willing to pay for...
  1. Different personality: Purchase a different personality for Mycroft so he can be silly, gloomy, cheerful, refined, sarcastic, or whatever. This would give some much needed variety to the responses from the unit.

  2. Online Backup: If you are instituting a cloud for some things, it would be nice to be able to backup my Mycroft’s personality/learning/etc to your servers so I can download it back onto a new Mycroft if something unfortunate happens to my old one.


#27

Hello everyone,

A small introduction about me, this is my first post. I 've heard about mycroft from some time and i really value the project but I am not a backer or a buyer yet (for reasons I d rather not get into here).

While browsing the mycroft site I saw this thread and read it. Decided to weight in as a healthy funding model is imperative not only to the success of an open source project but that the people behind it don’t have to make compromises from their initial “freedom specifications” in order to not have the project go down.

In my opinion a subscription model would be very hard to justify. Moreover from a customer perspective I prefer one-time fees as they help me manage my finances better.

The idea of an app store looked very good from the first time I read about it from gymboh32’s post.
Google playstore is a famous example but I have reservations about how selling closed source apps would align with a open source projects (I remember reading for example an article about google abandoning development on some open source apps on AOSP and “giving for free” proprietary versions from the playstore - apologies for not remembering a source on this). That doesn’t say it couldn’t work. What I think people should also consider are cosmetic changes on the app store. For example having the voice of your favourite actor, or super hero (for kids) reply to you. Commercial deals with cuts for everyone involved can make this happen. The popularity of cosmetic products on “free to play” games means this can create a revenue, though an expert on the subject would be needed to determine how much of your operating costs it would cover.

Another very good idea has been mentioned by Neon_Samurai. Outsourcing infrastructure to the users would be very helpful for all involved and distributed nodes has a lot of advantages. However in order for this to be viable a lot of things need to be considered.

  • One thing, that I suspect is more important to early backers than the average consumer, is that with this way the company does not become a potential central point of failure (Revolv hub comes to mind).

  • Moreover keeping your data at your own physical location goes a long way in ensuring one’s privacy

However one has to consider the financial viability of such a choice.

  • First and foremost for mycroft this means that they do not carry the burden of infrastructure cost but it instead is shared among the users.

  • Even updated packages and files could be shared in a distributed/utorrent like way to lessen the need of mycroft having to have a high upload server running 24/7. A lot of linux distributions prefer sharing iso images this way.

  • At this point I realise that hosting your own data requires a different hardware spec than the one mycroft already operates. Expert users can build it and install mycroft on top of it given the open source nature of the project. But average consumers would need to buy a different spec’d machine. Which means more sales.

  • An exception to all the above is that for users who don’t mind having their data on a corporate server, or for users who opt in for a backup of their mycroft data, or for users who use a simplest version with no storage capacity you can have a subscription scheme (of various levels) to accommodate them. Since they are all optional (convenience here is the selling point and a lot of people spend their money to have it) more privacy cautious people will be able to opt out of it without losing anything from their customer experience, which is key.

  • Last but not least is the issue of leveraging the user data in order to create a better customer experience. Given the setup I mentioned the only viable way is distributed machine learning.

  • The open source nature of the project should be able to verify to people that their data is used in an anonymized way when distributed training/learning occurs.

  • Web of Trust or PGP cryptography solutions can also be used to verify the identity of nodes initiating requests for distributed machine learning to maintain the integrity of the system (although I am not really knowledgeable on this subject).

There are two big drawbacks to this suggestion:

  • I do not know how late in your business plan it is for such an idea to be adopted by mycroft if you are not already moving towards it. Potentially that could be a deal breaker.

  • Implementing such an idea is no easy task and the field is not mature enough as of this moment. It would likely require a feasibility study from your part (if there is not one already). I would be happy to contribute in that.

Disclaimer: I am not an expert, and I am not looking for a job either. I just really like this project and I would love to contribute to the extend that I am able. Feel free to message me for further consideration.

To sum it up I believe that premium services should mostly consist of cosmetic changes. People are willing to pay for them (as has been demonstrated in many online/pc/android game stores) and do not take a away from the main product. This revenue stream is unlikely to be enough and in order to compete with the likes of Amazon I believe the infrastructure cost should be shared with the users as much as possible. Peer to peer updates can be run and distributed machine learning approaches can be used to minimise the needs for services running on a central node as much as possible so operating costs are minimised. I would also like to believe that if the infrastructure is shared people will also feel part owners of the project and would be more willing to contribute to it and help make it successful.

regards,
Karsus


#28

I am new to Mycroft, and just came across this post. This a great thread to get some ideas going for me. Thanks again for the contribution in time and thought. This really does help.