The future of Dropbox and Cloud Storage in the Post-file World
This article: Steve Jobs was right: Dropbox is a feature, not a product (pandodaily.com) argues that Dropbox’s functionality will be replicated by the major companies.
I’ve been a fan of Dropbox since the day Drew Houston posted a demo link on Hacker News. I think it solves an important problem in a really great way. It’s a great business too. Charging for storage works quite well.
I have to agree with the article’s title at least. I don’t really see how Dropbox has a great shot at surviving in the post-file world that is rapidly approaching.
The truth is that all I really use Dropbox for is as a redundant backup solution and a way to easily transfer files.
I find myself actually using it actively less than once or twice a month. When I do use it I appreciate it greatly — I would certainly miss it if it was gone ,but I really don’t need it that badly or that frequently.
The real issue is mobile devices. How are tablets and smart phones going to store your data and sync it to the cloud so it’s instantly available on any of your other devices?
Dropbox is certainly the right kind of technology, but what we really need is an open platform.
The same way you plug in your email account to an iPhone you could just as easily plug in your cloud storage provider. An open protocol is all that’s required and it could be defined really quite simply. Dropbox could probably write up an RFC in a month.
The alternative (and perhaps more likely) outcome is that Google will create a service and everyone on Android will use that, everyone on iOS will use iCloud, and both of the people using Windows phones will use Microsoft’s solution.
I remember reading that the reason Google gave up on creating something like Dropbox (dubbed GDrive) was that they didn’t want to continue to support the file as a thing. They wanted to incentivize and support users who moved their “files” into the cloud as Documents in Google Docs and the like.
I think Google made the right bet. They probably should have created GDrive anyway, just to get their grubby little hands in the cloud storage pot earlier, to learn more about how users still rely on files, and even to help users move their stuff into the cloud. How easy would it be for Dropbox to sync all of your MS Office files to Google Docs if they really wanted to? That could have been Google’s option.
Dropbox is an awesome company but there’s no reason to suspect that they’ll be the #1 cloud storage company going forward. I’ll probably end up using Google’s storage service just because I trust their technical expertise more Dropbox (who have made some dumb mistakes like any new company is bound to). The biggest reason though is just that I already have all my eggs in Google’s basket. All my stuff is there and they’re likely to integrate everything together in ways Dropbox won’t have the ability to.
At best Dropbox will become the biggest third-party cloud storage service and Google/Apple will split the majority of the market.