Personally, I'm moving to iCloud soon. The reason for this is that it will enable syncing of the notoriously closed Apps and music that come with Apple.
The non-apple crowd will not see this benefit, but once Google or Facebook decide they want to be in the cloud storage game too, Dropbox is going to find themselves squeezed between players that can pour money into this space. Dropbox is already not competitive on price, that much is certain. It's only a matter of time before their primary attribute (seamless usability) is duplicated enough to erode their base.
They should really look to sell, not try to build an empire. The numbers and/or culture with Apple might not have been right, but this should really be their primary goal.
If it isn't, I hate to say that the very best they could hope for is to be a niche player in a space that will be a commodity in 2-5 years.
However you have to imagine Dropbox is looking beyond "just file syncing" on client computers. Do you think when Jobs re-joined Apple, he was thinking "lets make Apple a better computer company". Dropbox gave an info session/tech-talk at MIT recently (which they do often), and talked about how they want to be the "Filesystem of the internet". With the money they've raised recently, and the ferocious hiring they're doing, you have to imagine they have plans to move into other spaces that might not necessarily be exactly client/cloud file syncing. I'd gander they have other aspirations and ways to make Dropbox as a platform be pervasive throughout the internet. Dropbox can focus on this one thing. Google can offer space for super cheap, but I can't see them attacking this large problem from as many angles as Dropbox can, since it's the "one" thing they do. This is all speculation, but I don't suspect Dropbox is going to sit complacently in the space they're in with potential pressure coming from so many competitors.
Also, iCloud's goal seems to be more to lock users into Apple products rather than be a great file syncing service. Photos off my iPhone get synced to iPhoto, rather than a folder I designate on my computer (ironically, a Dropbox folder). But to be fair, I haven't dived too deep into what I can do with iCloud yet.
However I can only gauge risk based on what I can see. It's possible that dropbox can revolutionize some new space that changes the equation, but this isn't evident right now, nor is it easily foreseen to be imminent. Given that, it doesn't look like a viable strategy for them, at least from my removed vantage point.
If DropBox sold to Apple, they'd be out of The Game. Instead of carving out their own niche, with the thrill and risk that goes with it, they'd be supporting a game that Apple has already defined, and is winning. They wouldn't be able to gallop forward towards a future of their choosing, with competitors making them Better from all sides, they'd be IT support for the iApps division.
Do you factor the love of entrepreneurship into your equation?
There can be more to it than 'if i take the money, i'm forced to spend the rest of my days on a yacht, enjoying life but wasting away'. At least that'd be how i'd justify selling out to myself :)
I think many founders who sell out realize that the latter is often the harder of the two to procure.
You are correct, though, if your goal is buy a yacht you should sell when that becomes possible.
Why? Are you interpreting this differently from me?
I see them as wanting to provide universal storage for web & mobile applications, in a way that allows you to access your documents & photos across multiple devices and platforms.
As long as Apple continue their tradition of (i) completely ignoring linux and (ii) making some of the worst windows software ever made, Dropbox have nothing to worry about.
Facebook is a non factor. Given Facebooks innovative stands on privacy I doubt anyone sane would let facebook keep their files.
Google would be a much bigger concern, but thus far Google have been extremely slow on this front, they seem to be tied up in some grand strategy/architecture dreaming, so they have been a non-factor thus far. I would say Dropbox's future depends mostly on Google's ability to get their heads out of the clouds forget all their grand world domination strategies and build something that works right now.
So yes there are a lot of potential competitors but each one of them carries a lot of architectural and strategy baggage and the entire point of dropbox is to avoid all of that stuff. So I think their chances of success are not bad at all.
There is a lot to like about Dropbox, but you really really can't just brush off the installed base of Apple. If anyone has their customers by the short and curlies Apple does.
While i am happy for dropbox , the real point that i learned in the summary article was that Apple is planning products two to three years into the curve which means if anyone wants to even dream or think of competing they need to come up with products that are two to three years ahead of the curve.
They will be relevant up to the point where operating systems simply makes their functionality a native element of their file system.
At least Drew is wise to the fact that they could become an also-ran, so it's not like this will happen to them overnight.
Someday they may all have Dropbox-like functionality built in, and someday after that they may interoperate. Dropbox can stay in their current business a long time regardless.
I run Windows and Debian on my desktops and laptop and I recently decided to try Ubuntu One. I could find no mention of other Linux OSes on the Ubuntu One page, and a quick web search returned nothing encouraging.
I was surprised by this. The impression I got is that Ubuntu One is just for people whose main OS is Ubuntu and who may have to also use Windows from time to time.
Anybody who was a mac user before 2000 can tell you how painful it was to use a mac when your friends or coworkers had windows. It was horrible. Problems with file sharing between systems created huge network effects for microsoft. It killed the possibility of having a mac for a lot of people.
The fundamental problem of compatibility requires not only technological and architectural commitment but also willingness to cooperate with competitors for the sake of the user.
But you're spot on with varying OSes being willing to cooperate to allow multiple clients access to shared data stores. Google, Apple, Microsoft and open source all in agreement on file sharing? Right.....
Surely the latest Dropbox investors considered that, and gauged the probability of harmony among the OS providers for the sake of the user. And since Dropbox just closed $250MM in financing, they obviously believe their chances are pretty good. :-)
At which point, they become a service. This is admittedly a wide-eyed optimist ideal, but I would picture most OS' adding basically a "Cloud storage" drive option that allows the user to mount any cloud storage service like a physical hard drive. The "driver" would be the interface protocol between the service and the user, and it would allow the various OS' to use the cloud storage as an additional, fully functional drive.
It probably won't happen until the next round of antitrust hearings against everyone(Apple, MS, Debian, Ubuntu, etc.), though...
Unfortunately Microsoft turned it in to something that didn't work anywhere near as well. It might have been improved now, but my business partner and I moved across to Dropbox, which has been much better. Since then I've also received files from various people working on joint projects across Dropbox, within the web industry it appears to have become the standard for that.
Getting something else that works well on one OS will be straightforward, especially for someone like Apple. Getting it to work well (and wanting it to) for multiple OSes and getting people on the other OSes to adopt it will be another matter.
That's partly why Dropbox survived their security problems so well, it's become part of a lot of people's background workflow.
Although Microsoft and Google have tried this sort of thing before (and a long time ago if we include WebDAV & Web folders) there is nothing quite like a successful product that gets it right and takes over to light a rocket underneath the bigger companies.
If iCloud takes off most Apple users won't look at Dropbox. Those of us already using it may find we use it less and if they then add a simple, cross-platform way to share files & folders we may just move on completely.
There's a lot of ifs there, but I believe that iCloud will at the least hamper Dropbox's move into the mainstream.
It's all about the product.
That's further reinforced by the existence of Dropship (although I don't know if it still works), which enabled people to get copies of any file in the whole Dropbox network with just its hash, by taking advantage of their deduplication techniques.
That kind of money, Drew's payout would have been substantial, enough to bankroll any project he could dream of (or live comfortably forever).
He must really believe in what he's doing.
Sure, one could argue that money is less important than achieving a vision, but with that kind of money, Drew could work on 5 additional visions of similar size, knowing his product was in good hands.
maybe dropbox is that project...
I still learn a lot from this site, so I don't really mind. Although I wish it would be different.
At least they are motivated to maintain it well!
In other words, the value to the consumer is in the simple, reliable interface and easy sharing. They have got this right where Jungledisk got it wrong.
However, the value to investors is in the customer base and an implied CLV for those that pay offsetting the exponentially decaying cost of storage for those that don't.
In other words, it's a Ponzi scheme for storage and they're betting on Moore's law. Unfortunately, it is almost trivial to reimplement their utility; any half-decent systems programmer will instantly grasp what they're doing. So I would not invest in Dropbox, but whilst they maintain some momentum I am happy to store low-value documents on their service.
What does that mean in non-US-English?
If true, this seems like a real wasted opportunity - even if that is the future we are getting to in several years, why not release a ready product that people would find useful in the meantime (and would help people arrive at that vision)?
edit: here is the excerpt: http://allthingsd.com/20110425/how-google-killed-gdrive-and-...
He went to Bradley Horowitz, the executive in charge of the project, and said, “I don’t think we need GDrive anymore.” Horowitz asked why not. “Files are so 1990,” said Pichai. “I don’t think we need files anymore.”
Although there is some truth in that, personally I don't think locking data in cloud-based silos is any better than locking it locally in proprietary data formats. If anything, it is a further step backward.
For example: Does anyone know the native format of Google Documents? Can you import/export it losslessly? I don't think so.
Apparently not: my students occasionally use Google Docs to get papers from their computers to printers in the library (or vice-versa), and the formatting of their papers constantly gets fucked up. When I see weirdly formatted papers, the students almost always blame Google Docs. Granted, I don't know if that's because the students don't know what they're doing or if Google Docs is hard or confusing to use, but still.
We build a Google Docs to InDesign linking product (http://emsoftware.com/products/docsflow/), and there's lossage/lack-of-direct-mapping when converting both from Word to Docs, and then from Docs to anything else (HTML, ODF, etc.).
Granted, Dropbox comes with its own limitations, but when I'm looking for software, I want to make sure I'm not pigeon holing myself based on my OS.
There is no need for them to flip like other sites who either need to make sales every month to stay in business or are reliant on Google staying nice to them in order to keep their traffic numbers.
Recurring revenue really is the key to lasting success on the internet.
Dropbox is aiming to support every system under the sun. Android, Windows, Linux, Mac OSX and all the hardware that they run on. Thats why Dropbox is bigger than Apple's iCloud.
Apple isnt going to manufacture every device you own. But you will want your files on every device you own. Lets say you have the following: Samsung phone, ipad, windoze at work and a linux system you hack on at home. Install dropbox and you have all your files everywhere.
Hell I dont even want my own devices. I want to be able to go anywhere, use any make of OS/hardware and have all my stuff available to me. Why? Because its so damn convenient.
Dropbox is building that. And its a very solid business business model.
Again any company that mediates between a bunch of other companies which each provide similar complement products/services will always be in business.
Dropbox is infrastructure. And one that creates a huge convenience for the end user.
Sonos is a direct competitor to AirPlay, and even a kind of crippled one: Sonos only works on Sonos devices; AirPlay works on many non-Apple devices.
So why would anyone buy Sonos?
It just works. The quality is incredible. You can stream audio from the web to all your speakers (which I don't think is doable, realistically, with AirPlay).
Point is, just because Apple invests a market doesn't mean everyone else dies.
It's not like Jobs can deny it now.
You are being naive if you think that given enough money, you can clone any product. That's simply false, especially for large orgs where more money invested towards a project can even become more of a problem than aid.
Hint: lots of companies that aren't five guys and a GitHub account produce software. Apple is one of them, and DropBox isn't that mysterious a product.
Personally, if I had that kind of money to throw around, I'd want it now, so I can start implementing my vision now.
Don't take the numbers here too literally, 3 years might only be 1 year. I highly doubt it'd be less than that, given Apple's size.
Why would Apple (or any other OS company) be in a hurry to get this product?
Apple's 'full' solution involves the necessary purchase of their hardware and software as well. Dropbox works across the board, without prejudice.
It's the same thing that happened with backups, they came up with Time Machine. Pretty much all the Mac users I know have a Time Machine backup.
I believe the same thing will happen with version control once Versions support is wide spread. Normal people will know about keeping versions of their work rather than multiple differently named files.
More than 45 million people use Dropbox. I think they have that part of the problem solved.
Does the Windows versions suck as much as iTunes? (including installing that pesky apple updater).
Going on-topic, I have a dropbox account but the 2 GB limit (which I managed to make 3.5GB after referring) is very limited. In addition they do not support WebDav.
I recently opened a free Box.net account and I am really happy with it. Because it has webdav support (box.net/dav) I can "mount" the disk in any computer as a drive (windows) or folder (linux).
I personally prefer this approach to the DropBox "replicate everything on each PC you enter". But I understand they are solutions to different issues.
The same was said about iTunes, but it eventually appeared there. It wouldn't surprise me if more aspects of iCloud eventually appear on Windows.