I’ve heard murmurings about Dropbox’s secret ambitions, most of which surfaced during the company’s recent round of fundraising.
And now the company’s strategy appears to be going live.
What is it?
Kill Apple. And Facebook.
OK, maybe not “kill” them, but at least pick off some of their functionality.
Basically, Dropbox appears to want to become everyone’s hard-drive in the cloud. But not just a “hard drive.” A sort of a social storage network, in which your “friends”–those who you allow to access your stuff–can, well, access your stuff.
How is this different than what, say, Apple is doing with iCloud?
In two ways:
- It’s platform agnostic. Dropbox works with everything: Apple gadgets, Android gadgets, Microsoft gadgets, even RIM gadgets. Apple only works with Apple gadgets. Why is that important? Because, although a lot of people have Apple gadgets, a lot of people don’t. And people who have Apple gadgets occasionally want to share things with people who don’t (as impossible as that may be to contemplate). Also, some individual people even use multiple platforms. Maybe they have a PC at work and an iPhone for themselves. Dropbox is a great way to share stuff with yourself.
- It allows you to share stuff with a wide number of friends and colleagues. iCloud is private–for you. Dropbox is private if you want it to be private, but it’s also open to whoever you want it to be, file by file. And that makes it sort of a social network.
Google Drive does all this stuff, too, but we already knew Google and Dropbox were going head to head. The news is that Dropbox is now going after some of what Apple and Facebook do.
How do I know what Dropbox has suddenly gotten serious about killing Apple?
Because I just plugged my iPhone into my MacBook Air and got this popup:
Photo: Business Insider
In other words, that stealthy Dropbox software is hanging around all day waiting for me to plug in some device so it can insert itself between the device manufacturer (in this case, Apple) and the device manufacturer’s storage repository.
I didn’t give Dropbox permission to do that.
It just did it!
Assuming Dropbox doesn’t annoy the crap out of its users with popups like this, by the way, this is a smart strategy. Most people will probably just click “start import” out of habit. And, soon, they’ll have filled up all their Dropbox storage and be forced to buy more.
Moreover, they’ll become addicted to Dropbox–because that’s where all their stuff will live and that’s where they’ll share it with their friends. And the more addicted they get to Dropbox, the less addicted they’ll be to Apple, or whoever their “platform” provider is.
(By the way, Apple appears to be aware of–and annoyed by–Dropbox’s ambitions, because it has recently blocked apps that use Dropbox. How ironic, then, that Dropbox just interrupted the communing of my iPhone and MacBook to siphon off some of my data).
And the sharing activity that folks do on Dropbox, of course, will be sharing activity that could have been done on Facebook or Google. So Dropbox will be taking a bite out of those folks, as well. All while doing something that Google and Facebook have never managed to do–get paid directly by their users.
So you can see why folks are excited about Dropbox. Especially now that its secret strategy is going live.