Privacy is priceless, but Signal is expensive


Fine… I’ll pay for Signal…


Because of this, I donate money to Signal.

Everyone who wants to and is able to do so, can donate too from the app or on the following webpage: Signal >> Donate to Signal Private Messenger

(Fun fact: when you donate using the app, you get a donation badge. You can choose whether or not you want this badge to be visible on your profile (and therefore visible for your contacts)


Signal had 40 million active users in 2021. With 14 million in infra cost, that comes to .35 per user/year. Total expenses are about 33 million, so about .825 per user/year. All in all, that seems very reasonable.


In general, only 2% of people are donating money to something that is free. So that’s about 800k Signal users, which means each would need to donate ~40$ a year.
Of course, there are many registered users who barely use it, or don’t use it at all. So I would expect actual cost per regular user (big chats, lots of photos & files) is higher than ~0,8 $/m.

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Because of this, I have never considered any centralized service as an alternative to my existing tools/services, as they are not sustainable without:

  1. Being really expensive due to the lack of ads and data collection. But since most people are not going to pay, it would be even more expensive, and has even less users to share the service expenses.

  2. Dealing with the ads company like what Mozilla does.

  3. Selling our data behind the scenes. As a possible counter measure, I am trying to avoid close-source and logging enabled services.

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How did you solve the problem? I struggle even switch people to signal, so how they will use decentralised apps.

I believe the blocker issue is not whether apps were decentralized. In fact, because of the decentralization, they’re able to mitigate the cost to every node runners, including incentive sharing for running the said nodes. It’s a sustainable business model, and also competitive compared to services from big-tech companies.

In my case, I failed to move my friends and family to Element (Matrix) because the app was very clunky and buggy at the time. My mom even lasted on Element like 2–3 months before she gave up. However, one of my friend on iOS, who rarely uses her PC (iMac), moved from iCloud to Storj + Photos+ combo because Storj is so much cheaper and Photos+ is only $19.99/year.

My point is, if the app is good, it will sell whether it’s decentralized. But through decentralization, it has a chance to be competitive. Transparency is another benefit due to the nature of decentralization.

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