Lots of things describe the Android hacking community. Intense. Enthusiastic. Horrifyingly talented. Call them what you will — just don’t call them small.
You see, we rarely get a glimpse into just how many people are modifying their Android handsets with custom ROMs; downloads are generally distributed across too many sites to track — and even if they’ve got an official home, the download numbers are rarely disclosed. As such, the only real marker of how many people are partaking in any given modification is how many people write in to thank the mod’s developer or otherwise comment on their results — which is usually, at most, a few hundred people.
Turns out, the real number of people getting their hack on is a bit higher than a few hundred. Quite a bit higher, actually.
After Android hacker Peter Alfonso finished up his overclocked and highly modified build of Android 2.2 (which he has dubbed “BuglessBeast”) for the Motorola Droid, he ran the download link through bit.ly and then posted it on Twitter, where it spread like wildfire. Thanks to the link living on bit.ly and the fact that bit.ly offers up click statistics pages to anyone who knows the right way to tweak the URL (pro tip: add a + to the end), we’re offered a little glimpse into just how many people nabbed this thing for their own use. The grand total? 37,642 downloads after just one week.
Now, in the bigger picture of the millions of Droids sold, ~38k downloads might not seem like a lot at first glance — but remember, this is one hacked and heavily modified build, spread around almost entirely by word of mouth.
Interestingly, this isn’t all about getting Android 2.2 on the Droid earlier than one could through official means. People seem to be driven by the customization/hacks. A more standard, less modified (but still completely unofficial) build of Android 2.2 had been available for nearly a month prior to the release of BuglessBeast, so anyone who just wanted straight Android 2.2 on their Droid could have gotten it long before. Furthermore, Pete released a standard, unmodified build of Android 2.2 for the Droid on the same day he released BuglessBeast; this version only garnered about 1,000 downloads.
Have you hacked your Android handset? What lead you to do it? Were you happy with the results?