• Dropbox Listens to the Criticism–Starts to Mature Corporate Product


    I’ve been a harsh critic of Dropbox in the past – mostly because I feel they lack maturity – both as a company and as a product – and this lack of maturity is a real risk for enterprise…

  • Sure Dropbox is Potentially Insecure, but Does it Matter?


    It’s summertime down in my neck of the woods and that’s a good time to go out on a limb with a statement that might get people a little fired up. Bear with me on this one though… Over…

  • FileLocker Launches By Taking a Shot at Dropbox and Box


    On a daily basis I get press releases from companies offering to be the “Dropbox for the Enterprise”, these companies are treading the well worn path of leveraging the well recognized name of a player in order to get…

  • Another Answer for a Safe Hybrid Dropbox-like Solution–MagFS Launches


    Two things most enterprise IT folks agree on are that Dropbox is a risky proposition for sensitive enterprise data and that employees are demanding solutions with a “Dropbox-like” functional spec. It’s a big area of opportunity and one that…

  • Dropbox Security Issues–IT has itself to Blame


    So Dropbox, the file sharing, backup and sync service that has been setting the world on fire, seems to have had some serious problems of late. It seems a large number of users have received spam e-mails and, in…

  • WorldDesk and DropBox Make a Truly Virtual Desktop


    A few days ago a little battle raged around what the launch of Google’s GDrive product might mean for DropBox. At the time fellow Cloud watcher Alex Williams commented that DropBox has a lot of magic that would save…

  • On Google Drive, and Core Focus, and Dropbox


    News today (admittedly for the umpteenth time in the last few years) that Google looks likely to finally roll out its cloud storage product, G Drive. According to the WSJ; Drive allows people to store photos, documents and videos…

  • You’re Never Too Big–DropBox Drops the Ball


    I spend a bunch of time talking to different vendors about their products and services – having done what I do for a few years now it’s interesting to see how companies that I knew when they were tiny…

  • On Keeping Up – Box.net and Dropbox and the New Arms Race


    Watching competing technology companies and their product developments is sometimes like watching the arms race of the later part of last century. Despite having enough fire power to split our planet in two, The US and the USSR would…

  • Dropbox – Envisaging a Future Well Beyond Files


    I’ve been talking a lot recently to cloud storage, cloud synchronization and cloud backup vendors (all variations on a theme but they all have a different emphasis to what they do).

    Recently I had a couple of opportunities to talk with Dropbox, first with founder Drew Houston, and later with recently appointed SVP Marketing and Sales, Adam Gross.

    First some history, Dropbox, founded in 2007 out of the Y Combinator is a file sharing and synchronization product now backed by Sequoia Capital and Accel Partners. In its first seven months it grew impressively – expanding from 100000 users to 1 million. In the past seven months it’s continued its stellar rise, having north of 3 million users now.

    When I asked Houston to differentiate his product from the other offerings, he did so by making two comparisons:

    1. The big boys haven’t made a product that users really love
    2. Dropbox is (in his opinion) far simpler than the other startup offerings

    I took a deeper dive when talking to Gross, who parsed their product in terms of situational storage, and pointed out that the metric of importance to Dropbox is the number of devices per person – while today that stands at two for many people (PC and smartphone), Gross recounted his experience at this years CES show where almost every product on display had a network connection – it’s when this vision of hyper connectedness is realized that Dropbox sees itself really starting to change the way things happen.

    At face value, cloud storage is kind of.. boring. I asked Gross what takes a seven year SFDC veteran into a startup like Dropbox. Gross went on to describe his own personal opinion that in the future, successful online storage will be a sort of a mesh that contextualizes the data passing through is into something of relevance to any particular device. He talked of data that will be:

    ubiquitous and seamlessly available no matter what device is being used

    The holy grail then is a kind of semantic nirvana where. for example, I could view a recipe on my online storage platform and my refrigerator can automatically evaluate what ingredients I have and what I need to buy and then pass that information onto my smartphone or directly to an e-tailer. It’s this sort of vision that keeps the Dropbox crew inspired.

    Of course all that is decades (or at least a decade) away – until then Dropbox need to create a product that people actually want to use, and somehow figure out how to make some money out of people using it. To this end, beyond the aspirational discussion above, prospective users need to know how Dropbox works as a product. Well it works just fine – like other offerings of this type I’ve reviewed – Dropbox does a stellar job of just doing what it does in the background – it just works. Of course this is something of a barrier to uptake – Dropbox is remarkable quite simply becuase it is unremarkable – it’s the sort of product people forget about (until it isn’t available any more!)

    In terms of dollars, Dropbox uses a freemium approach. A 2GB account is free while it’s $10 and $20 for the step up to 50GB and 100GB respectively. As a comparison, Syncplicity, whilch also has a free 2GB account, is $15 for 50GB (it has to be said that Syncplicity is integrated with web apps such as Google docs).

    I have Dropbox and Syncplicity running side by side on my three laptops and one desktop – and they both worked fine. I also use SugarSync from time to time – you can’t say I don’t have all my bases covered! There were the usual hassles when folders got shifted – from time to time I’d have to perform a complete sync. Most of this has to do with user interference rather than a failing of the products per se.

    So who will “win”? Well luckily for all concerned this is a big space and is in no way a zero sum game. There’s plenty of room for all concerned to carve out a niche. Most important will be for the vendors to define exactly what their message is, stick to that message and execute well. Watch this space.

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