|By Paul Miller||
|November 21, 2012 09:21 AM EST||
Cloud storage product Dropbox is one of those tools that users tend to rave about. It’s deceptively simple. It’s pretty reliable. The value proposition is immediately apparent. It has paid tiers of usage that bring additional storage but (like other freemium beacons such as Evernote) the free offering is rich enough to be compelling, engaging, and valuable. However, as Apple, Google and Microsoft start bundling very similar capabilities right into their latest operating systems, how can Dropbox (or any of its many peers) manage to keep attracting new customers?
Maybe all the articles and blog posts that lump these products together and label them as ‘just’ alternative cloud storage solutions are missing the point? Maybe they’re addressing fundamentally different problems, and maybe that offers room for differentiation as the market becomes clearer.
The late Steve Jobs once, famously, described Dropbox as ‘a feature, not a product.’ A feature for which he was apparently willing to part with as much as $800 million, but still just a feature. And, from Apple’s perspective, cloud storage is just a feature. It’s a feature that strengthens the Apple product ecosystem. It’s a feature that makes it that little bit harder to seriously consider buying a non-Apple tablet or computer when you already own an Apple phone. All your data is available on all of your devices. All of your music is available on all of your devices. Diary entries made on one device automatically appear on all of the others. It’s magical. It’s genuinely useful. And it’s a concept that is ridiculously easy to sell to prospective customers. Those customers are buying an iPhone or an iPad or an iMac, and they’re loving glass and aluminium, but the (allegedly) seamless cloud stuff going on behind the scenes is a very effective means of dissuading an existing Apple customer from straying toward the latest shiny alternative from Amazon or Google or Microsoft. The latest Lumia has tiles? So what. You’d have to copy your data onto it manually!
Microsoft’s SkyDrive and Google’s Chrome OS incarnation of Drive are essentially the same. They’re convergence plays, intended to make today’s devices as sticky as possible, and to ensure that future devices from the same stable are current customers’ first choice. And, as Jobs said, they’re features. They’re another badge, handed out to members of the tribe of Apple/ Microsoft/ Chrome|Android and worn with pride.
With over 100,000,000 users, a valuation in the billions of dollars, and investment in excess of $250 million, Dropbox remains a force to be reckoned with. It would be easy to suggest that the arrival of iCloud et al has simply removed Dropbox’s market overnight, but the number of registered users doubled in the six months to November of this year. It took over a year for the previous doubling of user numbers, from 25 to 50 million. SkyDrive, Google Drive and iCloud were all available.
Nevertheless, Dropbox does face a challenge. Early adopters and engaged users already consciously opt for services like Dropbox’s. But the vast majority of potential users, when looking for a cloud storage solution, will surely just switch on the one that their device is already configured with. In other words, iCloud, Drive, or SkyDrive. The market of users who will take this easy route must be far larger than the market of users who will go out and download something else when they don’t have to. But — and this may ultimately play to Dropbox’s advantage — the mass market of default-choosing users is probably almost entirely populated by people who will never hit the limit on the free storage that Dropbox offers them. They will take, and they will consume, and they will be a cost, but they’re very unlikely to ever pay Dropbox any money. The customers who care enough to go looking for alternative solutions, on the other hand, probably have the mindset or the storage requirements to part with cash. Dropbox’s conversion rates should rise, leading to slower growth on that overall user graph but a healthier balance sheet.
Ironically, perhaps the biggest potential market for future Dropbox growth is also one that is increasingly being squeezed. iCloud, Drive, and (to a lesser degree) SkyDrive appeal to individuals and small companies with enlightened IT procurement policies. They appeal to people with the power to choose (and the budget to afford) a set of devices that can and will work together seamlessly. But for the great mass of enterprise employees, spending their own money on a tablet or a smartphone and then trying to find a workflow that shares data between them and the bland Windows laptop handed to them by their employer, Dropbox must seem the answer to their prayers.
Except, of course, that enterprise CIOs are (understandably) terrified about data loss and they are cracking down hard on employee use of consumer cloud storage solutions. Dropbox’s fledgling business offering is limited at best, and ‘enterprise Dropbox’ offerings like Oxygen Cloud, Egnyte and GroupLogic are snapping at the company’s heels with a raft of CIO-friendly capabilities around audit, permissions, and more. For the CIO, and the business, these solutions make an awful lot of sense and deliver an awful lot of value.
But for the poor employee with a personal iPad and a company Dell? They probably still want their Dropbox…
Disclosure: I use the premium versions of Dropbox and Evernote every single day. They are invaluable core parts of my workflow across multiple devices. I pay for them, just like the rest of you. I also make some use of the free storage allowance offered by Box, Google’s Drive, Apple’s iCloud and Amazon’s CloudDrive.
- Building a platform for files in the cloud (zdnet.com)
- Dropbox doubles size of Pro accounts for free, intros 500GB plan (venturebeat.com)
- Nobody will win the storage war (filepicker.io)
- Next From Box: Embedding Storage In Your Apps (readwrite.com)
- Dropbox reaches 100 million users, founders not concerned about competing services (theverge.com)
A critical component of any IoT project is what to do with all the data being generated. This data needs to be captured, processed, structured, and stored in a way to facilitate different kinds of queries. Traditional data warehouse and analytical systems are mature technologies that can be used to handle certain kinds of queries, but they are not always well suited to many problems, particularly when there is a need for real-time insights.
Jan. 17, 2017 06:45 PM EST Reads: 6,179
Providing secure, mobile access to sensitive data sets is a critical element in realizing the full potential of cloud computing. However, large data caches remain inaccessible to edge devices for reasons of security, size, format or limited viewing capabilities. Medical imaging, computer aided design and seismic interpretation are just a few examples of industries facing this challenge. Rather than fighting for incremental gains by pulling these datasets to edge devices, we need to embrace the i...
Jan. 17, 2017 05:15 PM EST Reads: 3,548
In 2014, Amazon announced a new form of compute called Lambda. We didn't know it at the time, but this represented a fundamental shift in what we expect from cloud computing. Now, all of the major cloud computing vendors want to take part in this disruptive technology. In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, John Jelinek IV, a web developer at Linux Academy, will discuss why major players like AWS, Microsoft Azure, IBM Bluemix, and Google Cloud Platform are all trying to sidestep VMs and containers...
Jan. 17, 2017 05:00 PM EST Reads: 379
Web Real-Time Communication APIs have quickly revolutionized what browsers are capable of. In addition to video and audio streams, we can now bi-directionally send arbitrary data over WebRTC's PeerConnection Data Channels. With the advent of Progressive Web Apps and new hardware APIs such as WebBluetooh and WebUSB, we can finally enable users to stitch together the Internet of Things directly from their browsers while communicating privately and securely in a decentralized way.
Jan. 17, 2017 04:45 PM EST Reads: 3,034
IoT is at the core or many Digital Transformation initiatives with the goal of re-inventing a company's business model. We all agree that collecting relevant IoT data will result in massive amounts of data needing to be stored. However, with the rapid development of IoT devices and ongoing business model transformation, we are not able to predict the volume and growth of IoT data. And with the lack of IoT history, traditional methods of IT and infrastructure planning based on the past do not app...
Jan. 17, 2017 04:45 PM EST Reads: 596
All organizations that did not originate this moment have a pre-existing culture as well as legacy technology and processes that can be more or less amenable to DevOps implementation. That organizational culture is influenced by the personalities and management styles of Executive Management, the wider culture in which the organization is situated, and the personalities of key team members at all levels of the organization. This culture and entrenched interests usually throw a wrench in the work...
Jan. 17, 2017 04:45 PM EST Reads: 804
In his session at DevOps Summit, Tapabrata Pal, Director of Enterprise Architecture at Capital One, will tell a story about how Capital One has embraced Agile and DevOps Security practices across the Enterprise – driven by Enterprise Architecture; bringing in Development, Operations and Information Security organizations together. Capital Ones DevOpsSec practice is based upon three "pillars" – Shift-Left, Automate Everything, Dashboard Everything. Within about three years, from 100% waterfall, C...
Jan. 17, 2017 04:30 PM EST Reads: 9,579
Fifty billion connected devices and still no winning protocols standards. HTTP, WebSockets, MQTT, and CoAP seem to be leading in the IoT protocol race at the moment but many more protocols are getting introduced on a regular basis. Each protocol has its pros and cons depending on the nature of the communications. Does there really need to be only one protocol to rule them all? Of course not. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Chris Matthieu, co-founder and CTO of Octoblu, walked through how Octob...
Jan. 17, 2017 04:30 PM EST Reads: 2,892
The Internet of Things can drive efficiency for airlines and airports. In their session at @ThingsExpo, Shyam Varan Nath, Principal Architect with GE, and Sudip Majumder, senior director of development at Oracle, discussed the technical details of the connected airline baggage and related social media solutions. These IoT applications will enhance travelers' journey experience and drive efficiency for the airlines and the airports.
Jan. 17, 2017 04:15 PM EST Reads: 1,966
"We're bringing out a new application monitoring system to the DevOps space. It manages large enterprise applications that are distributed throughout a node in many enterprises and we manage them as one collective," explained Kevin Barnes, President of eCube Systems, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at DevOps at 18th Cloud Expo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
Jan. 17, 2017 03:30 PM EST Reads: 5,312
Containers have changed the mind of IT in DevOps. They enable developers to work with dev, test, stage and production environments identically. Containers provide the right abstraction for microservices and many cloud platforms have integrated them into deployment pipelines. DevOps and containers together help companies achieve their business goals faster and more effectively. In his session at DevOps Summit, Ruslan Synytsky, CEO and Co-founder of Jelastic, reviewed the current landscape of Dev...
Jan. 17, 2017 02:45 PM EST Reads: 4,103
SYS-CON Events announced today that Catchpoint, a leading digital experience intelligence company, has been named “Silver Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Catchpoint Systems is a leading Digital Performance Analytics company that provides unparalleled insight into your customer-critical services to help you consistently deliver an amazing customer experience. Designed for digital business, C...
Jan. 17, 2017 02:30 PM EST Reads: 1,732
"We formed Formation several years ago to really address the need for bring complete modernization and software-defined storage to the more classic private cloud marketplace," stated Mark Lewis, Chairman and CEO of Formation Data Systems, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 18th Cloud Expo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
Jan. 17, 2017 02:15 PM EST Reads: 6,317
With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing IoT strategies, now is the perfect time to attend @ThingsExpo 2016 in New York. Learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is as "IoT-Ready" as it can be! Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, New York, is co-located with 20th Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry p...
Jan. 17, 2017 02:15 PM EST Reads: 3,627
@DevOpsSummit at Cloud taking place June 6-8, 2017, at Javits Center, New York City, is co-located with the 20th International Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The widespread success of cloud computing is driving the DevOps revolution in enterprise IT. Now as never before, development teams must communicate and collaborate in a dynamic, 24/7/365 environment. There is no time to wait for long developm...
Jan. 17, 2017 02:15 PM EST Reads: 3,351