Welcome!

.NET Authors: Srinivasan Sundara Rajan, Pat Romanski, ChandraShekar Dattatreya, Jayaram Krishnaswamy, Jim Kaskade

Blog Feed Post

Dropbox, Google Drive, Apple iCloud, Microsoft SkyDrive; maybe they’re not apples after all?

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.

Growth in Dropbox registered users (numbers from Dropbox)

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.

Read the original blog entry...

More Stories By Paul Miller

Paul Miller works at the interface between the worlds of Cloud Computing and the Semantic Web, providing the insights that enable you to exploit the next wave as we approach the World Wide Database. He blogs at www.cloudofdata.com.

@ThingsExpo Stories
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 THINKstrategies, will examine why IT must finally fulfill its role in support of its SBUs or face a new round of...
The Internet of Things is tied together with a thin strand that is known as time. Coincidentally, at the core of nearly all data analytics is a timestamp. When working with time series data there are a few core principles that everyone should consider, especially across datasets where time is the common boundary. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Jim Scott, Director of Enterprise Strategy & Architecture at MapR Technologies, discussed single-value, geo-spatial, and log time series data. By focusing on enterprise applications and the data center, he will use OpenTSDB as an example t...
There's Big Data, then there's really Big Data from the Internet of Things. IoT is evolving to include many data possibilities like new types of event, log and network data. The volumes are enormous, generating tens of billions of logs per day, which raise data challenges. Early IoT deployments are relying heavily on both the cloud and managed service providers to navigate these challenges. In her session at Big Data Expo®, Hannah Smalltree, Director at Treasure Data, discussed how IoT, Big Data and deployments are processing massive data volumes from wearables, utilities and other machines...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Gridstore™, the leader in hyper-converged infrastructure purpose-built to optimize Microsoft workloads, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Gridstore™ is the leader in hyper-converged infrastructure purpose-built for Microsoft workloads and designed to accelerate applications in virtualized environments. Gridstore’s hyper-converged infrastructure is the industry’s first all flash version of HyperConverged Appliances that include both compute and storag...
The Internet of Things promises to transform businesses (and lives), but navigating the business and technical path to success can be difficult to understand. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Sean Lorenz, Technical Product Manager for Xively at LogMeIn, demonstrated how to approach creating broadly successful connected customer solutions using real world business transformation studies including New England BioLabs and more.
WebRTC defines no default signaling protocol, causing fragmentation between WebRTC silos. SIP and XMPP provide possibilities, but come with considerable complexity and are not designed for use in a web environment. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Matthew Hodgson, technical co-founder of the Matrix.org, discussed how Matrix is a new non-profit Open Source Project that defines both a new HTTP-based standard for VoIP & IM signaling and provides reference implementations.
DevOps Summit 2015 New York, co-located with the 16th International Cloud Expo - to be held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY - announces that it is now accepting Keynote Proposals. 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 development cycles that produce software that is obsolete at launch. DevOps may be disruptive, but it is essential.
Explosive growth in connected devices. Enormous amounts of data for collection and analysis. Critical use of data for split-second decision making and actionable information. All three are factors in making the Internet of Things a reality. Yet, any one factor would have an IT organization pondering its infrastructure strategy. How should your organization enhance its IT framework to enable an Internet of Things implementation? In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, James Kirkland, Chief Architect for the Internet of Things and Intelligent Systems at Red Hat, described how to revolutioniz...
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 storage designed to handle the massive surge in back-end data in a world where timely analytics is e...
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 the URL as a basic building block, we open this up and get the same resilience that the web enjoys.
The 3rd International Internet of @ThingsExpo, co-located with the 16th International Cloud Expo - to be held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY - announces that its Call for Papers is now open. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the biggest idea since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago.
How do APIs and IoT relate? The answer is not as simple as merely adding an API on top of a dumb device, but rather about understanding the architectural patterns for implementing an IoT fabric. There are typically two or three trends: Exposing the device to a management framework Exposing that management framework to a business centric logic Exposing that business layer and data to end users. This last trend is the IoT stack, which involves a new shift in the separation of what stuff happens, where data lives and where the interface lies. For instance, it's a mix of architectural styles ...
The definition of IoT is not new, in fact it’s been around for over a decade. What has changed is the public's awareness that the technology we use on a daily basis has caught up on the vision of an always on, always connected world. If you look into the details of what comprises the IoT, you’ll see that it includes everything from cloud computing, Big Data analytics, “Things,” Web communication, applications, network, storage, etc. It is essentially including everything connected online from hardware to software, or as we like to say, it’s an Internet of many different things. The difference ...
The security devil is always in the details of the attack: the ones you've endured, the ones you prepare yourself to fend off, and the ones that, you fear, will catch you completely unaware and defenseless. The Internet of Things (IoT) is nothing if not an endless proliferation of details. It's the vision of a world in which continuous Internet connectivity and addressability is embedded into a growing range of human artifacts, into the natural world, and even into our smartphones, appliances, and physical persons. In the IoT vision, every new "thing" - sensor, actuator, data source, data con...
P2P RTC will impact the landscape of communications, shifting from traditional telephony style communications models to OTT (Over-The-Top) cloud assisted & PaaS (Platform as a Service) communication services. The P2P shift will impact many areas of our lives, from mobile communication, human interactive web services, RTC and telephony infrastructure, user federation, security and privacy implications, business costs, and scalability. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Robin Raymond, Chief Architect at Hookflash, will walk through the shifting landscape of traditional telephone and voice services ...
"Matrix is an ambitious open standard and implementation that's set up to break down the fragmentation problems that exist in IP messaging and VoIP communication," explained John Woolf, Technical Evangelist at Matrix, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
An entirely new security model is needed for the Internet of Things, or is it? Can we save some old and tested controls for this new and different environment? In his session at @ThingsExpo, New York's at the Javits Center, Davi Ottenheimer, EMC Senior Director of Trust, reviewed hands-on lessons with IoT devices and reveal a new risk balance you might not expect. Davi Ottenheimer, EMC Senior Director of Trust, has more than nineteen years' experience managing global security operations and assessments, including a decade of leading incident response and digital forensics. He is co-author of t...
We are reaching the end of the beginning with WebRTC, and real systems using this technology have begun to appear. One challenge that faces every WebRTC deployment (in some form or another) is identity management. For example, if you have an existing service – possibly built on a variety of different PaaS/SaaS offerings – and you want to add real-time communications you are faced with a challenge relating to user management, authentication, authorization, and validation. Service providers will want to use their existing identities, but these will have credentials already that are (hopefully) i...
The 3rd International @ThingsExpo, co-located with the 16th International Cloud Expo - to be held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY - announces that it is now accepting Keynote Proposals. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the most profound change in personal and enterprise IT since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago. All major researchers estimate there will be tens of billions devices - computers, smartphones, tablets, and sensors - connected to the Internet by 2020. This number will continue to grow at a rapid pace for the next several decades.
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!