Being open source, Android is multifaceted – more so than other platforms. Take iOS, Windows Phone, webOS and even Symbian for example. Aside from major updates that alter the UI, these platforms, for the most part, look the same on every device that reaches a customer's hands. With Android, on the other hand, the software looks however the manufacturer sees fit. And if the end user doesn't like one or any aspect of the software that came on the phone then bought, they can completely change how the software looks, acts and performs with just a little know-how and elbow grease.

Chances are, however, that not every Android user knows how to build and compile their own ROM from the Android source code. In fact, the number of Android users capable and willing to "root" their device is still relatively small in comparison to the total number of users.

And because of its unique capabilities, some unique and rather impressive development communities have come to be. These communities are filled with all sorts of users and developers – from noobies to software engineers – who show camaraderie that is second to none. A lot of even the best developers out there work around the clock to provide users with top notch software, to make Android even better, without making a dime.

Sure, there are bounties that are made that are paid to the first developer who can port Android to a non-Android device, or to the first developer who can unlock and root a device. But, the majority of the time and majority of the development community works for free or donations. Even the biggest and most well-known team, CyanogenMod, works as a non-profit company and uses donations to cover their operating costs and to buy new developer handsets.

Last October, we learned that the CyanogenMod team officially supported 68 devices. (I would assume that number is well over 70 by now.) As you can imagine, this requires an unfathomable amount of work and computing power. Recently, the CM team lost access to compute clusters that they have been using to compile their ever-popular nightly builds (or nightlies). Long story short, they needed new servers to continue their work at full force. They needed Xeon-powered servers with large amounts of RAM to help churn out the 50 or so nightlies. Just yesterday, the team asked for help via their blog, and their goal was met by end of day.

If you've looked at buying a Xeon-powered server as of late, you're likely aware that they don't come cheap. A decent one will usually run for a couple grand. But we figure they're not looking to skimp on them since they're going to need some serious power. In other words, they're going to have to spend a pretty penny. Now they can afford to do that, thanks solely to the awesome development community that supports them.

It's truly an amazing thing.

But the guys on the CM team are hardly the only ones working, writing and digging through code to provide Android users with awesome software for our phones (and tablets). There are hundreds – more likely thousands – of developers who do it for fun, recognition among their peers and because they can. But stuff like this isn't always cheap or easy. They sacrifice their personal time away from jobs (that we assume they have) and their own sanity.

A single donation to a "beer fund" can go a long way.

There's nothing to feel bad about if you don't drop a few bucks in the developer's PayPal before downloading their ROM or mod. That's the point of donations. If it weren't optional, the developers would charge for their software (and lose a huge fan base and be shunned and outcast by the rest of the community).

Personally, I haven't donated in a long, long time. Not since I was deep into the dev world. I used to flash new ROMs on a daily basis and apply any and all tweaks I could get my hands on. That got pretty old with time, though. So now I just wait until there is a decent ROM worth using and I flash one every couple months.

Had I known the CM team needed help before they reached their goal, you better believe I would have contributed. But I missed it and they now have the money they need to keep doing what they do best. My money will probably now go to some Kickstarter project or the next Humble Bundle.

Tell me, readers. Do you support your favorite developers with small donations? Did you help the CM team out this go around? Will you in the future?

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76 Reactions to this post

"Do you believe in giving donations to Android developers?"

Please limit your reaction to 140 characters or use comments for a longer reply :)
Thanks for your participation! :)

Cory Wilson Better start giving to jesus
Thomas Boehnlein Hell yeah I do. I try to create incentives for innovation with Android even if it only means covering their beer money.
Cleveland B Stamps Hell YES! They deserve it! I donate every chance I get!
Shawn Poling Yes I do
Brett Embury Yes and no if they make Roms for phones then yes they get almost NO money for it but if they are making android app or something then no they could put ads or sell it in the market.
Daniel Kallini Yes ofc gets me ics on my phone without bloatware faster than motorola
David Hilgendorf Yes I do and always offer my help with testing. I got about two handfuls of paid apps I didn't purchase but was unlocked for my help. There's lots of free apps I use as well that have better support then some paid apps. I also have many apps I've purchased and rarely see updates and they really need them. I learned my lessons on those and only buy now from well known devs. Community for roms and themes are also ones that get my donations cause there work is better then most manufacture teams. Thank you android dev community :)
Callum Lefler If only I had more money I might..
Jose Pablo Islas I think it's great...instead of a company getting paid to push crap out quickly, people get paid for doing what people actually want and we decide what it's worth to us...good developers can afford to keep going and those who ignore the users don't make money...if more markets were like that the world would be a different place
Jeremy Gross i suport them by buying there good apps
Ayoub Hage Yes :)
Kawan T Best III sure do. I do it all the time
Baldemar Valle I donate! These. Developers spend countless hours working on roms, I'm using Hellfire Phoenix from hell.
Anonymous they use ads, so no
Dave Trivino Of course, as long as their work is quality
Rick Vowles Suuure do. Support great developers
Mike Chiou Just checked my expense book, I've donated over $80 to various ROM & apps developers.
Jose Garibay Fuck yes! Every phone since my nexus one has been rooted & running custom roms/themes. These guys are what make android the best os out there, on that note, big shoutout to my boy joelZ9614 who's beasting it with his roms on the 3d, camera isn't functional yet on ics, but I'm betting he'll get it before htc releases the source
Hansel Starley I don't give money to beggars.
Emmanuel Castro CM team always has mine.
Henry Gaul I am a huge Android fan, ironically though, I don't root and install custom ROM's often. However, I usually do donate when I use someones root method. Also, I donate if there is a custom ROM that is good and I use it as a daily driver. I typically always opt for the paid version of an app if they offer a paid and non-paid version. I don't like the implication that Android users are cheap and don't like to pay for stuff.
Robert Wernikoff Apps n roms @lance tomlinson. But yes if i like the rom ill donate
Robert Wernikoff Yes i do if the app or rom is good
Tyler Eggo Eggleston If I wasn't afraid of bricking my phone by installing custom roms and actually used them, and I had a job, then I most definitely would donate to them. Hell if I just had a job, I would donate to the CyanogenMod dev team even though I don't use custom ROMs, I really like the look of CyanogenMod and plan to use it on my Evo once I upgrade to the Galaxy SII
Lance Tomlinson 90% Of the people posting here have no clue what we are talking about here. This is NOT for apps you idiots. This is for custom ROMS. And yes you should donate if you like the custom ROM you are using. If someone takes the time to develop the whole OS that your phone is going to be running on then yes, they deserve a donation and a "thanks" click if you're getting the ROM off XDA.
Kev Baldwin We pay for sony ps3, xbox, wii games for consoles, the website buy software for pc's, laptops etc.. What's the difference??? Good luck to the developers
Kev Baldwin Why not? We pay apple, microsoft, sony......... The list is endless. There are lots and lots of top quality apps out there that are very helpful.
Jarvis Billena I donate devs for the hard work they do for custom rooms..
Ken Gorab absolutely
Stiven Cabrera Hell yeah. CyanogenMod dev team is the best.
Jamie Doege those of you saying no, try building a rom and dealing with all the people that cant follow instructions and doing all this on your free time, its not that simple and donations show that people are appreciating the hard work we are doing.
Mike Mota People who just cocomment without reading the article should not comment. This is not talking about apps.
Payton Slattery yes i believe, to bad i dont got no money to give, Sydney took it all
Dre Ill Donations are not mandate, but if you choose to show appreciation through giving, it only inspires creativity. We cook for the love of technology but showing gratitude goes a long way.
Kyle Hess I bet half the people saying yes wouldn't even donate
Antonio Vazquez lmao at the BB over Android anyday haha! BB is dead
Andrew Joseph Schoenherr If the option is there and the app is good. Yup
Markus Howard no i get paid apps for free
Darryl Mouzone Yes. They deserve it for the work they put into their product, even though they're doing it for free and aren't asking for money.
Yan Zhenghao Donation strategy don't work, unless its for an indie developer
David Smith Yes for sure
Frankie Franco Rom devolpers yes ...ad based apps no
Kristian Jonathan-Courtney Bonds-Davis im 16 and have no job, so thats kinda out the window
Spliff Meister BB OS over Android anyday
Anthony Abate If I have extra money and appreciate the work thy put into a custom rom I definitely try to fund their work
Mark Fisher Jr. Hell no. They already got more money than me.
Kyle Cordiano If the free version is good i will buy their paid version.
John Zanatta I have always made donations for devs who make custom ROMs, rooting or s-off programs, HSPL on WM and WP7. I can't do what they do so why not throw a "thanks" their way...
Tayyaba Seher Irtiza Please help me & vote for my pic....http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10150611780288166&set=o.201639606520851&type=1&permPage=1
ShaiVaughn Crawley Yes. Posted via LG myTouch 4G
Joseph Lopez You must first ask yourself that question? Would I take that leap forward? ...
Naga Appani Yes, I do
Gordon Christie if i could i woiuld so i didnt have to put up with ads
Humberto Rubio yes i at least try! i i will buy there paid app..
Mandeep Singh Sure I always support them as possible. They deserve for their work.
Loai Ahmed Medhat at least they are better than the iOS developers !
Judi Bryan Yes..I like to support the folks who make great products...and to encourage them to make more and better ones!! There ain't no such thing as a free lunch, as my dear ol' daddy used to say!
Don Kenyon if the app turns out to be a working model, as has great customer support, then I will always donate.. If the app turns out to be a flake, or the customer support is not with it, then No money is given..
Drew Butler yes, very hard to profit off apps without ads

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