Crowdfunding Android Firmware Development?

Android aficionados have a laundry list of things they would like to see added to Android proper. Some of these are being addressed in the so-called “cupcake” development path, but others are not. This begs the question: how are we going to get these things built?

Some may say that the core Android team should implement them. That’s all fine and well, but there are hundreds, if not thousands, of things that could be built. The core Android team is only so big — it will take years upon years to tackle just the items that have been discussed, from better development tools to apps running off of SD cards to just improving some of the core applications. And it is fairly obvious that the list of things that could be done will just keep growing.

With open source, of course, some people will elect to contribute to the project on their own, or via their employer. This will certainly help expand Android’s capabilities. However, such third-party developers will be interested in scratching their itches, which may or may not line up with the itches that a broader swath of people might be interested in.

Of course, some people might contribute to Android if they were paid to do so.

For example, in 2008, Gregory Brown served as the Ruby Mendicant, where he raised funds to allow him to develop Prawn, an improved PDF generation library for Ruby. Funds came from a mix of individuals and firms, interested in his project and, perhaps, in this concept of “crowdfunding” some open source development.

Similarly, projects like FCKEditor have used services like Fundable to raise money either for general development efforts or for specific items (e.g., hardware needed for testing a port).

The question is: can we do the same thing for Android firmware improvements? Are there firmware engineers out there who would like to contribute to Android but cannot for financial reasons, and are there people in Android-land who would be willing to contribute money — large or small — to help fund specific projects that you find interesting?

I am interested in your feedback. Depending on the level of interest, I may try to set up what amounts to a match-making service, to connect developers, projects, and contributors. So, post your thoughts in the comments, or contact me off-post at mmurphy \at\ commonsware /dot/ com.

  • Me

    I’ve long wanted a way to fund developers to work on stuff that I’m too lazy to work on myself. I’d be eager to browse a list of projects that seek funding.

  • TareX

    Google is to blame for the lack of developers. No Widget SDK, no OpenGL support. If they wait a few more months (weeks?), everyone will be running to WebOS….

    I’m starting to think the G1’s poor memory management is responsible for the lack of a Widget SDK…

  • Jay_Cee

    No OpenGL support? Check out 3D Super-G Stunt and the other games from OmniG Software. I’m not sure how fun they are (not really my cup of tea), but visually they are georgeous and must be OpenGL based.

    We are definitely past due for a Widget SDK though….

  • Rob

    I would be very interested to see that happening. Funding the ideas that make sense to YOU. I cannot think about a better development-path.

  • HereAndNow

    Part of the 30% app purchase cut in the Android Market should be used to fund Android “platform” development.

    This “platform” development could be made the responsibility of the OHA, whereby they:
    1. Establish development priorities & schedules.
    2. Hire full-time staff for development, QA, documentation, release management, support, etc.
    3. Outsource appropriate “deliverables” to OHA alliance members, non-member companies & private developers.

    This would help to make Android an independent, self-sustaining platform.

  • I’ve been working on a similar project for the last few years. I’ve started mind mapping the business & it’s model in the last year or so. Your starting to get the hint to the next stage of the web… The government is still a few years behind there barely hitting the web2.0 faze we all went through a while back, lol.

    I’d love to talk to you more about it.

  • Roger

    Firmware improvements definitely raise the standard of your project. I have been taking the services of Teligy, and have found that they work with different chip manufacturers to implement firmware for hardwares like modem. These experts do continuous upgradation of their working methods and thus, have a reputation in the market. It’s not only firmware development, but Teligy ( has expertise in handling every software and application related work.

  • Count me in. I’d be more than happy to put down hard money and PAY for a GOOD PDF reader on the G1 for example, and I think many others would agree. There’s unfortunately some basic functionality and apps that are flat out missing on android/G1 that miss on my Blackberry for example. Not enough stuff to get me go back and leave G1 (Android rocks!), but things where BB or iPhone users I know go, “Really? Your G1 can’t do that?”

  • bill m

    Pdf would be at the top of the list
    A sip client also.