The Dropbox Effect

April 24, 2012 by  
Filed under Features & Editorials

We all love Dropbox, but how did it become the default cloud-based storage solution?
The Dropbox Effect
“Tom Cruise in Minority Report is not carrying around a thumb drive”
Dropbox co-founder, Drew Houston
Numerous reports, papers and presentations have been given in recent years to explain the rise of Dropbox, the file backup and synchronisation service which has taken the world by storm. In reality the reason for its success is simple: it realised the easiest way to access your data was not by carrying it, but by having it delivered.

For those not in the know, Dropbox is a file hosting, backup and synchronisation service. It works by giving users a single folder which automatically synchronises content added or deleted across multiple devices as well as backing up online. Edited or removed files are kept for up to 30 days online and ‘sharing’ folders can be setup between friends, family or colleagues. Dropbox offers users 2GB of storage space for free, premium subscriptions provide 50GB, 100GB or ‘Team’ accounts for companies.

Dropbox wasn’t the first company to stumble upon this formula, but it has been the breakout success story. We look at why.

The Landscape before Dropbox

Houston is right, there may not have been thumb drives in Minority Report, but when the Science Fiction film was released in 2002, the real world was overrun by them. IBM and Trek Technology were first to market in 1999 with 8MB devices and as capacity increased and size reduced the tech savvy would even boast about whose thumb drive was the best. The technology was impressive, but blinding. Users lost sight of the fact they were mere extensions of the floppy disk and actually a backwards step from the lightening fast Intranets of their schools and universities.

“I graduate and for me it’s back to the Stone Age,” argues Houston. “Where I am emailing myself stuff I’m carrying on a thumb drive. A couple of times I must have put it in the wash… and prayed I hadn’t destroyed it. But I felt like I was just always one stupid move away from disaster.”

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