|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)
15th Cloud Expo, which took place Nov. 4-6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, expanded the conference content of @ThingsExpo, Big Data Expo, and DevOps Summit to include two developer events. IBM held a Bluemix Developer Playground on November 5 and ElasticBox held a Hackathon on November 6. Both events took place on the expo floor. The Bluemix Developer Playground, for developers of all levels, highlighted the ease of use of Bluemix, its services and functionalit...
Nov. 27, 2014 11:00 AM EST Reads: 688
The Internet of Things will greatly expand the opportunities for data collection and new business models driven off of that data. In her session at @ThingsExpo, Esmeralda Swartz, CMO of MetraTech, discussed how for this to be effective you not only need to have infrastructure and operational models capable of utilizing this new phenomenon, but increasingly service providers will need to convince a skeptical public to participate. Get ready to show them the money!
Nov. 27, 2014 11:00 AM EST Reads: 1,154
Some developers believe that monitoring is a function of the operations team. Some operations teams firmly believe that monitoring the systems they maintain is sufficient to run the business successfully. Most of them are wrong. The complexity of today's applications have gone far and beyond the capabilities of "traditional" system-level monitoring tools and approaches and requires much broader knowledge of business and applications as a whole. The goal of DevOps is to connect all aspects of app...
Nov. 27, 2014 11:00 AM EST Reads: 519
The 4th International DevOps Summit, co-located with16th International Cloud Expo – being held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY – announces that its Call for Papers is now open. Born out of proven success in agile development, cloud computing, and process automation, DevOps is a macro trend you cannot afford to miss. From showcase success stories from early adopters and web-scale businesses, DevOps is expanding to organizations of all sizes, including the world's large...
Nov. 27, 2014 11:00 AM EST Reads: 1,576
Want to enable self-service provisioning of application environments in minutes that mirror production? Can you automatically provide rich data with code-level detail back to the developers when issues occur in production? In his session at DevOps Summit, David Tesar, Microsoft Technical Evangelist on Microsoft Azure and DevOps, will discuss how to accomplish this and more utilizing technologies such as Microsoft Azure, Visual Studio online, and Application Insights in this demo-heavy session.
Nov. 27, 2014 10:45 AM EST Reads: 884
When an enterprise builds a hybrid IaaS cloud connecting its data center to one or more public clouds, security is often a major topic along with the other challenges involved. Security is closely intertwined with the networking choices made for the hybrid cloud. Traditional networking approaches for building a hybrid cloud try to kludge together the enterprise infrastructure with the public cloud. Consequently this approach requires risky, deep "surgery" including changes to firewalls, subnets...
Nov. 27, 2014 10:45 AM EST Reads: 858
DevOps is all about agility. However, you don't want to be on a high-speed bus to nowhere. The right DevOps approach controls velocity with a tight feedback loop that not only consists of operational data but also incorporates business context. With a business context in the decision making, the right business priorities are incorporated, which results in a higher value creation. In his session at DevOps Summit, Todd Rader, Solutions Architect at AppDynamics, discussed key monitoring techniques...
Nov. 27, 2014 10:30 AM EST Reads: 869
SYS-CON Media announced that Centrify, a provider of unified identity management across cloud, mobile and data center environments that delivers single sign-on (SSO) for users and a simplified identity infrastructure for IT, has launched an ad campaign on Cloud Computing Journal. The ads focus on security: how an organization can successfully control privilege for all of the organization’s identities to mitigate identity-related risk without slowing down the business, and how Centrify provides ...
Nov. 27, 2014 10:00 AM EST Reads: 1,249
The Internet of Things will put IT to its ultimate test by creating infinite new opportunities to digitize products and services, generate and analyze new data to improve customer satisfaction, and discover new ways to gain a competitive advantage across nearly every industry. In order to help corporate business units to capitalize on the rapidly evolving IoT opportunities, IT must stand up to a new set of challenges. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jeff Kaplan, Managing Director of THINKstrateg...
Nov. 27, 2014 10:00 AM EST Reads: 1,122
"We help companies that are using a lot of Software as a Service. We help companies manage and gain visibility into what people are using inside the company and decide to secure them or use standards to lock down or to embrace the adoption of SaaS inside the company," explained Scott Kriz, Co-founder and CEO of Bitium, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 15th Cloud Expo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Nov. 27, 2014 08:45 AM EST Reads: 1,178
"SAP had made a big transition into the cloud as we believe it has significant value for our customers, drives innovation and is easy to consume. When you look at the SAP portfolio, SAP HANA is the underlying platform and it powers all of our platforms and all of our analytics," explained Thorsten Leiduck, VP ISVs & Digital Commerce at SAP, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 15th Cloud Expo, held Nov 4-6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Nov. 27, 2014 08:15 AM EST Reads: 1,234
One of the biggest challenges when developing connected devices is identifying user value and delivering it through successful user experiences. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Mike Kuniavsky, Principal Scientist, Innovation Services at PARC, described an IoT-specific approach to user experience design that combines approaches from interaction design, industrial design and service design to create experiences that go beyond simple connected gadgets to create lasting, multi-device exp...
Nov. 27, 2014 08:00 AM EST Reads: 1,111
SAP is delivering break-through innovation combined with fantastic user experience powered by the market-leading in-memory technology, SAP HANA. In his General Session at 15th Cloud Expo, Thorsten Leiduck, VP ISVs & Digital Commerce, SAP, discussed how SAP and partners provide cloud and hybrid cloud solutions as well as real-time Big Data offerings that help companies of all sizes and industries run better. SAP launched an application challenge to award the most innovative SAP HANA and SAP HANA...
Nov. 27, 2014 08:00 AM EST Reads: 1,190
Enthusiasm for the Internet of Things has reached an all-time high. In 2013 alone, venture capitalists spent more than $1 billion dollars investing in the IoT space. With "smart" appliances and devices, IoT covers wearable smart devices, cloud services to hardware companies. Nest, a Google company, detects temperatures inside homes and automatically adjusts it by tracking its user's habit. These technologies are quickly developing and with it come challenges such as bridging infrastructure gaps,...
Nov. 27, 2014 07:45 AM EST Reads: 1,431
"Cloud consumption is something we envision at Solgenia. That is trying to let the cloud spread to the user as a consumption, as utility computing. We want to allow the people to just pay for what they use, not a subscription model," explained Ermanno Bonifazi, CEO & Founder of Solgenia, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at Cloud Expo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Nov. 27, 2014 07:15 AM EST Reads: 1,042
The Domain Name Service (DNS) is one of the most important components in networking infrastructure, enabling users and services to access applications by translating URLs (names) into IP addresses (numbers). Because every icon and URL and all embedded content on a website requires a DNS lookup loading complex sites necessitates hundreds of DNS queries. In addition, as more internet-enabled ‘Things' get connected, people will rely on DNS to name and find their fridges, toasters and toilets. Acco...
Nov. 27, 2014 07:00 AM EST Reads: 1,398
"For the past 4 years we have been working mainly to export. For the last 3 or 4 years the main market was Russia. In the past year we have been working to expand our footprint in Europe and the United States," explained Andris Gailitis, CEO of DEAC, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at Cloud Expo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Nov. 27, 2014 06:45 AM EST Reads: 1,188
Connected devices and the Internet of Things are getting significant momentum in 2014. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Jim Hunter, Chief Scientist & Technology Evangelist at Greenwave Systems, examined three key elements that together will drive mass adoption of the IoT before the end of 2015. The first element is the recent advent of robust open source protocols (like AllJoyn and WebRTC) that facilitate M2M communication. The second is broad availability of flexible, cost-effective ...
Nov. 27, 2014 06:45 AM EST Reads: 1,209
Scott Jenson leads a project called The Physical Web within the Chrome team at Google. Project members are working to take the scalability and openness of the web and use it to talk to the exponentially exploding range of smart devices. Nearly every company today working on the IoT comes up with the same basic solution: use my server and you'll be fine. But if we really believe there will be trillions of these devices, that just can't scale. We need a system that is open a scalable and by using ...
Nov. 27, 2014 06:45 AM EST Reads: 1,309
High-performing enterprise Software Quality Assurance (SQA) teams validate systems that are ready for use - getting most actively involved as components integrate and form complete systems. These teams catch and report on defects, making sure the customer gets the best software possible. SQA teams have leveraged automation and virtualization to execute more thorough testing in less time - bringing Dev and Ops together, ensuring production readiness. Does the emergence of DevOps mean the end of E...
Nov. 27, 2014 05:00 AM EST Reads: 1,225