Believe it or not, kids, there was a time when you couldn’t magically sync all of your documents across all your computers and mobile devices. And guess what? In the good ole days, when you accidentally deleted a spreadsheet, it really was gone. No two-click recovery. Can you remember life before Dropbox? I can. And I’m okay making it unrecoverable.
I can’t think of any other service that keeps getting better by not even changing. Dropbox was so good from the beginning that it’s hardly needed any polish at all. But it’s getting better because people keep developing around it and on top of it.
Dropbox has almost become a platform in itself.
The latest Dropbox condiment on the menu is a new service called DropDAV. From its developer:
It stands between the Dropbox API and WebDAV clients, giving your Dropbox a seamless WebDAV interface. It was developed specifically for use with Apple’s iWork suite for iPad, and works smoothly with every other WebDAV client. Use DropDAV anywhere a WebDAV server is supported and add more uses to the most useful file service in the world.
David’s been test driving it for a few weeks and likes it a lot.
I tried it out myself, and it works great. Not only does it finally bring the cloud to the iPad iWork apps, it gives you an alternate portal to your Dropbox account. You can use it with an FTP client or anything else WebDAV-y. What’s more, it gives you a way to access your Dropbox account right through the browser on networks where Dropbox has been blocked – or so I’ve heard. Ahem.
The success of Dropbox
The “just works” nature of Dropbox makes it ideal for almost anyone on any type of computer.
As JP Mangalindan of CNNMoney.com writes, Dropbox’s popularity has grown mainly through word of mouth advertising. And:
…despite scant marketing and loads of competition, the service has earned millions of devoted customers who use it for tasks like co-writing books or even coordinating multiple self-steering farm tractors.
Suddenly, farming seems awesome to me.
The future of Dropbox
While Dropbox has gained some serious traction in the consumer world, I can’t help but notice that something’s missing.
Why hasn’t Dropbox hit the enterprise? I mean, seriously. Think about it: There’s a stark dichotomy between the corporate and consumer world right now.
Inside most big company firewalls, it’s still 1995. If you delete a file, it’s really gone – unless a human being can find it by manually sifting through tapes of server backups. Even then, the recovered version could be weeks old.
Losing work “at work” is expensive. The company has to pay an IT pro to hunt down the file, and most likely, a high-salaried employee gets to redo the work. No telling how many times this happens every day in every company.
A consumer or small business using Dropbox, however, can fix an accidental deletion in about two clicks. No time lost. No rework. No help desk phone calls. No pulling IT pros away from more important things.
Even if a company didn’t want its data in the cloud, surely a variant of the current version of Dropbox could be installed inside an enterprise. The versioning technology alone would be worth it.
So again, I ask: Why hasn't Dropbox come to the enterprise? Why?
Dropbox has a huge opportunity to go beyond the consumer and small business realm and finally bring computer-based knowledge work out of the 1990s for good. I’d like to see it happen.