|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)
For basic one-to-one voice or video calling solutions, WebRTC has proven to be a very powerful technology. Although WebRTC’s core functionality is to provide secure, real-time p2p media streaming, leveraging native platform features and server-side components brings up new communication capabilities for web and native mobile applications, allowing for advanced multi-user use cases such as video broadcasting, conferencing, and media recording.
Sep. 28, 2016 09:15 AM EDT Reads: 3,153
A strange thing is happening along the way to the Internet of Things, namely far too many devices to work with and manage. It has become clear that we'll need much higher efficiency user experiences that can allow us to more easily and scalably work with the thousands of devices that will soon be in each of our lives. Enter the conversational interface revolution, combining bots we can literally talk with, gesture to, and even direct with our thoughts, with embedded artificial intelligence, wh...
Sep. 28, 2016 09:00 AM EDT Reads: 3,841
Ask someone to architect an Internet of Things (IoT) solution and you are guaranteed to see a reference to the cloud. This would lead you to believe that IoT requires the cloud to exist. However, there are many IoT use cases where the cloud is not feasible or desirable. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Dave McCarthy, Director of Products at Bsquare Corporation, will discuss the strategies that exist to extend intelligence directly to IoT devices and sensors, freeing them from the constraints of ...
Sep. 28, 2016 08:45 AM EDT Reads: 2,546
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.
Sep. 28, 2016 08:45 AM EDT Reads: 1,124
Information technology is an industry that has always experienced change, and the dramatic change sweeping across the industry today could not be truthfully described as the first time we've seen such widespread change impacting customer investments. However, the rate of the change, and the potential outcomes from today's digital transformation has the distinct potential to separate the industry into two camps: Organizations that see the change coming, embrace it, and successful leverage it; and...
Sep. 28, 2016 08:45 AM EDT Reads: 1,201
Technology vendors and analysts are eager to paint a rosy picture of how wonderful IoT is and why your deployment will be great with the use of their products and services. While it is easy to showcase successful IoT solutions, identifying IoT systems that missed the mark or failed can often provide more in the way of key lessons learned. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Peter Vanderminden, Principal Industry Analyst for IoT & Digital Supply Chain to Flatiron Strategies, will focus on how IoT de...
Sep. 28, 2016 08:30 AM EDT Reads: 1,152
In his session at @ThingsExpo, Kausik Sridharabalan, founder and CTO of Pulzze Systems, Inc., will focus on key challenges in building an Internet of Things solution infrastructure. He will shed light on efficient ways of defining interactions within IoT solutions, leading to cost and time reduction. He will also introduce ways to handle data and how one can develop IoT solutions that are lean, flexible and configurable, thus making IoT infrastructure agile and scalable.
Sep. 28, 2016 08:30 AM EDT Reads: 1,570
Complete Internet of Things (IoT) embedded device security is not just about the device but involves the entire product’s identity, data and control integrity, and services traversing the cloud. A device can no longer be looked at as an island; it is a part of a system. In fact, given the cross-domain interactions enabled by IoT it could be a part of many systems. Also, depending on where the device is deployed, for example, in the office building versus a factory floor or oil field, security ha...
Sep. 28, 2016 08:15 AM EDT Reads: 536
An IoT product’s log files speak volumes about what’s happening with your products in the field, pinpointing current and potential issues, and enabling you to predict failures and save millions of dollars in inventory. But until recently, no one knew how to listen. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Dan Gettens, Chief Research Officer at OnProcess, will discuss recent research by Massachusetts Institute of Technology and OnProcess Technology, where MIT created a new, breakthrough analytics model f...
Sep. 28, 2016 08:00 AM EDT Reads: 2,055
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, walk you through how Oct...
Sep. 28, 2016 07:45 AM EDT Reads: 2,260
There are several IoTs: the Industrial Internet, Consumer Wearables, Wearables and Healthcare, Supply Chains, and the movement toward Smart Grids, Cities, Regions, and Nations. There are competing communications standards every step of the way, a bewildering array of sensors and devices, and an entire world of competing data analytics platforms. To some this appears to be chaos. In this power panel at @ThingsExpo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, Bradley Holt, Developer Advocate a...
Sep. 28, 2016 07:45 AM EDT Reads: 2,268
SYS-CON Events announced today that Bsquare has been named “Silver Sponsor” of SYS-CON's @ThingsExpo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. For more than two decades, Bsquare has helped its customers extract business value from a broad array of physical assets by making them intelligent, connecting them, and using the data they generate to optimize business processes.
Sep. 28, 2016 07:30 AM EDT Reads: 2,905
There is little doubt that Big Data solutions will have an increasing role in the Enterprise IT mainstream over time. Big Data at Cloud Expo - to be held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA - has announced its Call for Papers is open. Cloud computing is being adopted in one form or another by 94% of enterprises today. Tens of billions of new devices are being connected to The Internet of Things. And Big Data is driving this bus. An exponential increase is...
Sep. 28, 2016 07:00 AM EDT Reads: 2,686
The Internet of Things will challenge the status quo of how IT and development organizations operate. Or will it? Certainly the fog layer of IoT requires special insights about data ontology, security and transactional integrity. But the developmental challenges are the same: People, Process and Platform and how we integrate our thinking to solve complicated problems. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Craig Sproule, CEO of Metavine, will demonstrate how to move beyond today's coding paradigm ...
Sep. 28, 2016 07:00 AM EDT Reads: 3,360
IoT offers a value of almost $4 trillion to the manufacturing industry through platforms that can improve margins, optimize operations & drive high performance work teams. By using IoT technologies as a foundation, manufacturing customers are integrating worker safety with manufacturing systems, driving deep collaboration and utilizing analytics to exponentially increased per-unit margins. However, as Benoit Lheureux, the VP for Research at Gartner points out, “IoT project implementers often ...
Sep. 28, 2016 07:00 AM EDT Reads: 3,474
So, you bought into the current machine learning craze and went on to collect millions/billions of records from this promising new data source. Now, what do you do with them? Too often, the abundance of data quickly turns into an abundance of problems. How do you extract that "magic essence" from your data without falling into the common pitfalls? In her session at @ThingsExpo, Natalia Ponomareva, Software Engineer at Google, provided tips on how to be successful in large scale machine learning...
Sep. 28, 2016 07:00 AM EDT Reads: 2,110
The Jevons Paradox suggests that when technological advances increase efficiency of a resource, it results in an overall increase in consumption. Writing on the increased use of coal as a result of technological improvements, 19th-century economist William Stanley Jevons found that these improvements led to the development of new ways to utilize coal. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Mark Thiele, Chief Strategy Officer for Apcera, will compare the Jevons Paradox to modern-day enterprise IT, e...
Sep. 28, 2016 07:00 AM EDT Reads: 2,272
SYS-CON Events announced today that Roundee / LinearHub will exhibit at the WebRTC Summit at @ThingsExpo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. LinearHub provides Roundee Service, a smart platform for enterprise video conferencing with enhanced features such as automatic recording and transcription service. Slack users can integrate Roundee to their team via Slack’s App Directory, and '/roundee' command lets your video conference ...
Sep. 28, 2016 05:30 AM EDT Reads: 1,477
In his general session at 18th Cloud Expo, Lee Atchison, Principal Cloud Architect and Advocate at New Relic, discussed cloud as a ‘better data center’ and how it adds new capacity (faster) and improves application availability (redundancy). The cloud is a ‘Dynamic Tool for Dynamic Apps’ and resource allocation is an integral part of your application architecture, so use only the resources you need and allocate /de-allocate resources on the fly.
Sep. 28, 2016 05:15 AM EDT Reads: 2,826
Digital transformation is too big and important for our future success to not understand the rules that apply to it. The first three rules for winning in this age of hyper-digital transformation are: Advantages in speed, analytics and operational tempos must be captured by implementing an optimized information logistics system (OILS) Real-time operational tempos (IT, people and business processes) must be achieved Businesses that can "analyze data and act and with speed" will dominate those t...
Sep. 28, 2016 05:00 AM EDT Reads: 1,204