The Economist notes that before Apple launched iCloud in 2011, Steve Jobs reportedly offered to buy Dropbox, a file-sharing service founded in 2007, for $800m, but Dropbix founder Drew Houston turned him down. His Dropbox overture spurned, Jobs somewhat peevishly disparaged the serivce as “a feature, not a company,” but The Economist notes that in December Dropbox wound up a promotional campaign that had in just a few weeks, added 2 million new users, bringing the total of Dropboxers to over 100 million, roughly twice the number there were when Jobs made his comment. If it’s just a feature, it’s one desired by an awful lot of users.
The article notes that Dropbox data transfers account for 20 percent of total bandwidth consumed globally by browser-based file-sharing services, and that Dropbox users, most of whom use the free version of the service, save more than 1 billion files daily.
Dropbox’s key to success, The Economist observes, is that it’s “platform neutral,” supporting a wide variety of different devices and operating systems, allowing for easy, hassle-free file-sharing in an increasingly connected world where few people adhere devoutly to a single device-maker.
Personally, I don’t know how I ever managed without Dropbox. I’ve never bothered with iCloud because I don’t like proprietary walls, and Apple doesn’t even support machines running versions of its own OS older than OS X 10.7 Lion. That makes it pretty useless to me a priori, since I have two Macs in production service that can’t run OS X versions later than OS X 10.4 Tiger. Dropbox happily supports Tiger.
Dropbox is also delightfully low-hassle to set up and configure, and several iOS text applications can link to it directly.
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